Friday, April 12, 2019

Millions of Homeowners Qualify for $4,000 Rebate

April 12, 2019

When you consider the rate at which inflation is still on the rise, job seekers keep hunting for ever
elusive employment and families barely survive, you may wonder whether the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008 was actually solved. Given the hard economic times, many homeowners are tempted to shelve home repairs for later. Unfortunately, things are only bound to worsen when properties deteriorate.

If you are a homeowner who finds it difficult to make ends meet and you do not know how to make the necessary improvements in your home, do not lose hope. The following programs can help you qualify for a rebate worth up to $4,000.

Dealing with Tough Times

Your home structure may already be carrying a lot of burden depending on your circumstances. Your elderly parents and college graduate may be living with you because of the challenging economic times, not to mention that you also have other concerns in the same hard times.

Apart from carrying out some necessary home repairs and general maintenance, you may need to add space to accommodate all the people living with you. You may be considering replacing some things in the home to reduce your budget in the long run, such as energy-saving equipment. Apart from replacing existing appliances, you may consider installing new ones, such as a home security system so that your family can sleep peacefully. If you are still a young couple, you may have to consider a new member of your family.

No matter how stretched your budget may be, you should not postpone necessary repairs. If you neglect your roof until it starts leaking, for instance, you will be forced to spend more to repair it.

Defaulting Nightmare

Banks may sweet-talk you into taking a loan, and you may have a great relationship when you are making regular repayments. However, you may discover that you turn into a great enemy overnight when you miss even a single repayment. You will have to pay what you already owe (including interest, of course) plus fine for defaulting, and you are likely to receive “courtesy calls” at the most inappropriate times.

Prohibitive Interest Rates

Many homeowners with mortgages are not eligible for the HELOC or home equity line of credit. Many of those who qualify are put off by the high rates of interest. Personal loans do not suit those with high student or credit card debt because the high interest rates would counter the benefits of their loans.

Does this mean that the situation is hopeless?

The US government has put various measures to help you out of your predicament. Improving your home will not just benefit you, and the politicians are aware of this fact.

Improving your home will increase its value, which will in turn benefit property taxes. You will hire people to carry out the necessary improvements and increase employment in the process. A conducive environment will not only make your family happy but also more productive.

Home improvement is a win+win+win undertaking.

Cash-Out Financing

Any loan that you take against your home is considered to be secured because the home itself is the collateral. Since you are applying for a secured loan, you will get a relatively low interest rate. With cash-out financing, you are likely to get more money than you need for home repairs, giving you the opportunity to fulfill other financial obligations.

The American government offers loans with low interest rates, thanks to its size. Since the government understands the value of improving your home, you are likely to qualify for one of the following programs.

It is estimated that about 700,000 Americans are qualified to receive the rebates, but many of these people have not used the opportunity. It is important to understand that you can qualify for the savings even if you refinanced recently.

You do not need to pay anything to qualify for the government programs. Different brokers avail the programs, which you can freely review without any obligation to accept them.

The government understands the importance of home improvement, but you must do your part as a responsible homeowner. You have the home that needs improvement and Uncle Sam provides the money to improve it.

Low Income Families: All About Housing Assistance

April 12, 2019

In middle of the Great Depression, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was started to assist low-income families in finding affordable options for housing. Since then, HUD has expanded its assistance to include rent subsidies for lower income families and the construction of housing units.

The Begninning Of Section 8 Housing

In 1974, Congress passed The Housing and Community Development Act. This act helped low-income families locate and afford safe housing by subsidizing part of their rent. This act was later labeled the Section 8 Housing Program. The program allowed renters to put only 30 percent of their entire income toward rent. The Federal Government covered the remaining 70 percent by compensating the landlords.

The Addition of Subcategories to Section 8

Originally, the Section 8 Program consisted of three separate subcategories - Existing Housing, New Construction and Substantial Rehabilitation. A new subcategory, Moderate Rehabilitation, was added in 1978. In 1983, another subcategory known as the Voucher Program was added on. A final subcategory, the Project-Based Certificate Program, was added in 1991. Each of these subcategories were created with the intention of determining if landlords were eligible to participate in the Section 8 Program.

Section 8 Housing - Who Is In Charge?

Individual states regulate Section 8 Housing. Each state's particular Housing Authority determines the amount of funding available for programs. The amount of funding, availability of programs, and budget fluctuates frequently due to changes in the money provided by state Housing Authorities. However, subsidies already in place have had their funding renewed by Congress.
Housing Voucher Program

The Housing Voucher Program was established for families with extremely low incomes, the elderly, or disabled people. These groups are eligible to receive subsidies that help them live in safe, affordable, clean housing. The vouchers can help tenants find housing - whether an apartment, townhouse, or single-family home - best suited to their needs.

The Housing Authority in each individual state sets the eligibility requirements. Factors such as the size of the family and gross annual income help determine a family's eligibility. Both citizens of the United States and non-citizens with an appropriate immigration status are eligible for vouchers.
What Does the Application Process Involve?

To be determined as eligible for a voucher program, applicants are required to provide the Housing Authority with proof of their income and the immigration status for all family members listed on the application. The Housing Authority then contacts banks, employers, and family members to verify that all eligibility requirements are met and to set the total amount of the subsidy.

Waiting List for Vouchers

Since vouchers are highly sought after, the majority of eligible applicants are placed on a waiting list until the necessary funding is available. Once funding becomes available, families on the wait list are contacted and can proceed with obtaining a voucher.

The following situations may cause a family to be positioned at the top of the waiting list:
They are currently homeless
They are residing in dangerous or substandard housing
Their total rent is over 50 percent of their entire income
They have lost their housing without choice

Families dealing with these situations are placed at the top of the list. Qualifications and eligibility requirements are set by each state's Housing Authority and vary from state to state.
Participating Landlords - What Are the Requirements?

People who qualify for vouchers must choose housing in accordance with the Housing Authority's particular codes and requirements. Participating landlords are required to allow the site to be inspected to confirm it complies with the Voucher Program. If the premise meets the standards, a voucher will be approved.

Since landlords can choose to avoid participating in the Section 8 Voucher Program, some landlords may not accept vouchers. Participants in the Section 8 Voucher Program must confirm that their potential landlord is aware of the program and willing to receive vouchers.
Families with vouchers are required to notify Section 8 of any changes in income or family size. Failing to notify the Housing Authority of these changes can be considered fraud and can result in losing the voucher.

You can apply for benefits here:

The Good Neighbor Next Door Program

April 12, 2019

Basic Overview of the GNND Program

Who Is Eligible?
  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Firefighter
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Teacher employed full time
(Must be current or prospective homeowner)

The Good Neighbor Next Door program gives qualified individuals an opportunity to purchase homes with a significant 50 percent discount.  It's intended to encourage community helpers to move into the same communities that they provide a service. Teachers of public school students, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and police officers are encouraged to participate in the program to improve neighborhoods.

The discount is applied toward the appraised value of the home, and participants must make the purchase within the seven days that it's listed. If a home is currently appraised at $300,000, the GNND program would allow qualified candidates to purchase the property for only $150,000. The buyer may also take advantage of an FHA-insured mortgage to finance any acquisition expenses, such as major home repairs and closing costs. It's required that the purchaser use the home as their primary residence for at least three years to fulfill the entire agreement. There are no restrictions once the three years have past if the owner decides that they would like to remain in the home, rent it out to a tenant, or sell it for a profit.

Qualifying for Participation

An applicant must hold a full-time job in a position that promotes a safer, stronger community. Participants may be employed at a state accredited school, a local government division, a larger government division (federal or state, for example), or Indian tribal government. You cannot be eligible for the program if you or your spouse own a home, you have owned a home in the past year, or if you have already obtained a home through the Good Neighbor Next Door or any similar program.

Guide to Acquiring a Home

Successfully purchasing a home truly relies on receiving a timely notification of homes available in your community. The homes listed under the GNND program are only offered for a total of seven days, so it's a good idea to request text and email notifications. There is an equal opportunity for all qualified participants to apply for a listed home, and one candidate will be selected randomly to purchase the specific property. A real estate agent will be assigned to each applicant so that they can officially place their name into the drawing. The agent can also get started on the pre-qualification process with various mortgage lenders to find any additional programs that reward community helpers.

What Are the Odds of Being Selected?

Although it's difficult to predict the exact odds of being awarded, there are plenty of homes that go to the only interested participant. The program doesn't sell all of the homes that are listed because of the short seven day application period. No special privileges are given to individuals with a specific job title as long as you are a qualified participant. Your odds of being selected only decrease based on the amount of people that apply for the same property.

Officers of the Law

Police that wish to take part in the GNND program may only apply for properties within the area that they service on a typical day. You must get verification from your employer that you work full-time in law enforcement for a qualifying division of the government. This may include a parish, state, local, or federal government agency that requires that you uphold the law and make arrests for violations. Indian tribal government employees can also take part in the program, but there are law enforcement agents that are ineligible. The GNND home program does not allow dispatchers, law enforcement employed at private corporations or schools, or civilian employees to participate in most cases.

Public School Teachers

Any educator at a state-accredited public or private school may enter the lottery for homes within the district that they teach. The boundaries are determined by the service area of the employer, and they must also verify that you work full-time as a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade classroom teacher. Property that you apply for must also be within the same area as the students of your district.

Emergency Medical Technicians and Firefighters

A firefighter or EMT must be employed full-time at a station or emergency medical services unit of an official government agency, and they must service the area that the property is located. First responders cannot qualify for the program if they work for a privately owned company.

In order to participate, you must follow the guidance on HUD's Good Neighbor Next Door web page.

To read more about this program, go to this page

Government Grant Scams to Avoid

April 12, 2019
Whether through a television or internet ad, or an unsolicited phone call from an official-sounding agency, most people have heard about so-called “free grants” that can be used for paying bills, buying a house, college tuition, or any number of other costs. Whatever the pitch, these ads and phone calls almost always state that all you have to do to qualify for free money is fill out an application, one that is guaranteed to be approved.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the agency charged with protecting the nation’s consumers from dishonest business practices, these free grant offers are almost always scams.
Sometimes scammers take out ads in newspapers or on internet sell-and-trade sites, where they post toll-free phone numbers offering more information. Other scam operations employ telemarketing tactics, except that instead of calling from a legitimate company, these con artists use fake titles and lie about their products. Many claim to be calling from government agencies, such as the “Federal Grants Agency,” or another official-sounding office. They then ask a few preliminary questions and tell you that you’ve qualified, setting the stage for their swindle. According to the FTC, these calls are always from con artists, as no federal agency will ever contact a consumer in this way.

After informing the consumer that they have “qualified” for a grant, the scammer will ask for bank account information, supposedly to enable the government to deposit funds in the consumer’s account. In other cases, they ask for credit card information, or ask the consumer to wire money to cover “processing fees.” While their methods vary, one thing is certain: those who wire money or share bank and credit card information will never see that money again, no matter what the “representative” promises.

To avoid becoming a victim of a grant scam, the FTC advises consumers to take the following precautions:

1.Never share your banking or credit card information. Scam operators are adept at convincing people to share their information. The bottom line is that you should never give your information to anyone, unless you know the company and what the information will be used for.

2.Never pay for a “free grant.” No legitimate company, and certainly no government agency, is going to charge you for something that’s supposed to be free. Government agencies will never ask you to pay a fee to process a grant, nor will they charge you for a list of legitimate grant-awarding agencies. Those resources are free and available to the public at any library, or online at

3.Always check the name of the agency. Any scammer can come up with an official-sounding name, like the “Federal Grants Agency,” an agency that doesn’t exist. Do a quick internet search or check the blue pages in your phone book.

4.Know that phone numbers can be disguised. Today’s technology allows con artists to manipulate the way their phone numbers appear on caller I.D. Although the call may appear on caller I.D. to be coming from the nation’s capital, it could really be coming from any location on the planet.

5.Streamline the calls you accept. To decrease the number of unsolicited telemarketer calls you receive, register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry at, or call 1-888-382-1222. In addition, there are a number of smart phone apps that allow you to block unwanted calls.

6.Contact the Federal Trade Commission. If you believe you have already been the victim of a scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Whether the scam originated online, or over the phone, the agency will register your fraud complaint in an international law enforcement database known as Consumer Sentinal. Call 1-877-382-4357 or go to for help.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Missing Money Finder Guide

April 11, 2019
Missing Funds You May Not Know You Still Can Access

There are various reserves of money that people are entitled to but many of them are not aware of this which makes them not to add such money to their funds that they actively draw from every day. The major reason people have missing money is because they never realize they had yet to formally claim money that was awarded to them in the past and is still waiting for them now.
There are billions of measures of missing funds and assets that can still be taken by their rightful owners in the US. Despite this fact, the government does not take it upon themselves to contact people to come and claim their missing funds. This is one of the reasons it is wrong to trust phone calls or emails from parties claiming to be the US government and claiming that they can freely send the person some money that was supposedly overlooked in the past.

To start with, you should first put in your own effort to look into the missing funds matter without having to pay someone else to do it on your behalf. You should start by looking over every place you have either lived or worked at within your current state of residence. Then, you should broaden your search to other states that you had previously lived in. If you find that you had left behind a safe deposit box, a deposit you may have given to a prior landlord, or a check you had received from a prior employer you once worked overtime at, you will have to determine whether that will be turned over to you by either the local district in question or the state's government.

The subject of unclaimed retirement money is inclusive in missing funds; it is common for someone switching employers to fail to realize that the 401(k) plan maintained at their last place of work is not active at their new place of work. Missing funds can be searched for on the websites of companies that provide 401(k) plans. You can search for pensions that have been sent to you at the company which you were employed at the time; if that company has closed, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is the best website you can visit to search for missing pension funds which protects non-state pensions.

Tax refunds are part of the missing funds people claim. IRS retains possession of these refunds and can award them to people who visit its website and follow its instructions on how to claim them. If you have handled home mortgaging matters through it in the past, there may also be a refund waiting for you at the Federal Housing Administration. Refunds from the FHA can be awarded for various reasons such as refinancing a loan you originally received from it and mistakenly paying more for your home's mortgage insurance than necessary because of some overlap between different kinds of insurance payments. Note, however, that there is only a six-year window within which this money can be claimed before it will fall under the ownership of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Other sources of missing funds can come from mature savings bonds that you had never redeemed and insurance coverage for accounts you maintained at financial institutions that have since gone under. You find missing funds in savings bonds by searching on the website of the US Treasury Department. If you had an account at a bank that has since closed down, you can look into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to see if it will pay you insurance for that account; it provides up to $250,000 in insurance coverage. Likewise, if you had an account at a credit union that has since shut down, you can look at the National Credit Union Administration's online resources to see if it can pay out insurance coverage for your losses.

How to Retrieve Life Insurance Money

April 11, 2019
Unclaimed Life Insurance Money Information

Many people die without informing their family members of the life insurance policies they have taken out. It is not always easy to find life insurance policies that were not claimed, but regardless, unclaimed life insurance policies are worth searching for. Statistics have shown that over 600 people die without claiming their life insurance policies with an average of $2000. Life insurance companies try as much as possible to locate people; various laws make this process difficult and these forces insurers into using social security numbers for tracking.

The first thing about searching for life insurance that has not been claimed is to be sure you are eligible for it. Before searching, a person must ensure that they are the beneficiary of the policy. By law, insurance companies can only share information with eligible beneficiaries. In some cases, the insurance company may refuse to communicate or share data, which means the person, will be unable to claim any benefits.

Make sure you look for the right paperwork while searching for your unclaimed life insurance. If a family member died in the recent past, this is the easiest route to find paperwork. The personal files of the deceased should also be examined. Bank statements will indicate if any premiums have been paid to an insurance company.

The next thing to do when searching for unclaimed life insurance is to search for an insurance company. When there is an existing policy, the insurance company should be contacted as soon as possible. The company will be able to assist the person in locating the policy. If the company is unreachable, the next step is contacting the insurance department of that specific state.

Looking in the correct state is needed when searching for unclaimed life insurance money. Make sure you know the state which the life insurance was purchased from. A family member that died in a state might have purchased life insurance from a state where they formerly lived so it is necessary to know the state so as to claim the right life insurance money. Another reason is that there is a possibility the life insurance company went out of business or was acquired. You can get needed information by visiting the state insurance commissioner in such a situation.

Checking with previous employers can also help in claiming life insurance money. Previous employers are an excellent source of information because many people buy their policies through the companies they work for. While most of these policies are "term policies," meaning they are only valid for the length of the employment period, people do sometimes keep them going after moving on. This is why contacting previous employers is so helpful.
Finding financial connections can go a long way I claiming life insurance money. If the deceased family member worked for an insurer, an accountant or a financial planner, those entities can help with policy information, even if they did not issue the policy or have any direct connection to it.

You can then use missing policy locators to locate your local insurance office claim life insurance money. All you need to do is to submit a request for records search will soon reveal if a person is a legitimate beneficiary.

There are unclaimed property files that you can check to find your unclaimed life insurance money. When money is unclaimed, it will eventually end up in a state's unclaimed property office. The person who is searching should check this office in the state where the policy was issued. An insurance rating agency may also be of help in finding a policy.

A large database that contains life insurance application data is the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) and it is a good tool for searching for unclaimed life insurance money. This service is not free; therefore, it should not be your first option when you are looking for unclaimed life insurance money.
Anyone who takes out a life insurance policy should clearly indicate who the beneficiaries are in their will or by some other legal method. The insurance company should have as much information as possible about the beneficiaries, especially the names, addresses and social security numbers of those people. The more data that is provided, the easier it is for the insurance companies to contact people. It also makes it easier for people to search later on, if necessary.

How to Make Use of Expired Gift Cards

April 11, 2019
This article is to help you get a refund on an expired, unredeemed gift certificate or gift card. Popular gift ideas are gift cards or certificates. Gift cards can be received from birthdays or holidays and they can be placed in a drawer or wallet after receiving them. Storing gift cards is not wrong, but some people are ignorant of the fact that some gift cards come with expiry dates. Your gift card will no longer have value if you fail to use the gift card before its expiry date. The good news is there are ways you can get refund on your gift card which gives you the opportunity to use the gift card’s full value on your purchase.

A lot of people ask questions like “Is it possible to get a refund on unredeemed gift cards and certificates?”. You are probably under the impression that when a gift card expires, it becomes invalid. Some gift card issuers will let you redeem the money on the card, even if the card was never used. Receiving a refund really depends on the company. Many companies want to keep or acquire gift card holders as their customers. The companies do not wish to lose their customers so they are always willing to provide a refund on expired gift cards. You probability of getting a refund on your gift card depends on the type of card and the issuer of the card. There are some gift cards that can never be redeemed once they expire.

When you want to get a refund on your gift card, the first thing is to contact the company that issued the gift card or gift certificate to you. Do not go to the store where the gift card was given to you. This is because employees at the store are not in any position to assist you with the problem of refund on your gift card and this can end up in frustration for you. It is important to contact the right person. You will have greater success when you contact the company by phone or using email. When you contact the company, gift them the cards, or certificates, information and tell them the card's expiration date.

The company that issued the gift card is in the best position to tell you about their store policy so you know what to expect with the refund on your gift card. There is always depreciation in the value of an expired gift card which results in getting a lower amount than the initial value of the gift card. However, there are companies that may give you the original value you received on the card. Keep in mind that courtesy goes a long way. Customer service representatives are less willing to work with you when you are rude and demanding. If you are unable to get assistance, don't give up. Feel free to escalate the issue and ask to speak to a manager or supervisor.

When you want to redeem your expired gift card, never forget to go in to the process with realistic expectations. Stores offers gift cards with long expiration dates because they do not like to give refunds on expired gift cards. The expiration period tends to be one or two years after the purchase of the gift card. In a perfect world, you could contact a store regarding your expired card and the resolution would work in your favor. However, stores abide by strict rules and guidelines. They will not change their guidelines for one customer. Changing the rules for you would mean having to disregard their rules for hundreds of other customers.

Remember to read the terms and conditions of the gift card before you contact the card issuer. The details in the terms and conditions will guide you through how to use the gift card and the expiration date of the card. Most gift cards have a policy that considers the card null and void once the expiration date passes. If the policy is unclear, you should contact the company. The absence of any clear policy regarding the card's expiration is a good point to argue when requesting a refund.
Many people do not realize that their gift cards have expiration date. The good news is if you found an expired gift card you forgot about, all may not be lost. All you need to do is to contact your issuer company and see if they are willing to give you a refund on your expired gift card.

How to Get Undelivered and Unclaimed Income Tax Refunds

April 11, 2019
In the United States, many people live for tax season knowing that they will get a great tax refund which they will be able to use on a necessary purchase or for something on their wish lists. Some people never file any income tax refund with the Internal Revenue Service because they made so little money during the year and so they think they are not entitled to income tax refunds. This could be misguided thinking because many of these people actually deserve refunds and may be mistakenly letting the government keep it. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service routinely has well over 100 million dollars of refunds that go unclaimed each year. On average, there is $3,116 owed per average unclaimed income tax record, which is an amount that most cannot afford to lose.

In the case of undelivered tax refunds, many people who file income tax refunds are usually owed refunds by the Internal Revenue Service. Statistics have shown that more than 30 million tax refunds are sent electronically or through the mail annually. Those paper checks can be so easily lost, however, and the government routinely receives some of them back through the post office because the address was incorrect or undeliverable. Still others get lost in the postal system. All individuals who believe they are missing a paper check should ensure that they have given the IRS the correct address.

Concerning unclaimed tax refunds, majority of the people are ignorant of the fact that the Internal Revenue Service owes them tax refunds even though they earned so little to be required to file a tax refund. However, what they may be forgetting is the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is available to low-income individuals with a certain number of people living in the household. This credit is still due to many individuals despite the fact that they did not pay any taxes.

Anyone who has missed out on their tax refund check still has hope. An opportunity of 3 years from the taxable year of the missing refund has been given to everyone to contact the IRS and claim their tax refunds. After three years, the money will be claimed by the government. Keep in mind that there are no penalties for filling a late return for those who are due refunds.
When you miss a tax refund, your reason for missing the tax refund will determine the way you will react to missing it. For example, those with incorrect addresses listed by the IRS can update their personal information on the IRS Website under the “Where’s My Refund” section. Form 8862 can also be used for those who prefer to mail in a hard copy.
You can also hire a paid tax preparer to help you track down the missing tax refund, correct information on a tax refund that may be keeping the refund from arriving or filling out tax refund forms requesting the missing tax refund.

You can also stop tax refund issues from occurring in the future. The major reason given for tax refunds going missing is wrong addresses listed with the Internal Revenue Service. Before filing taxes for a new year, individuals should ensure that the IRS has the correct address listed. The most common problem when receiving electronic refunds is incorrect bank account information listed on the form. Individuals should always double-check their banking information before mailing in forms or sending them electronically.

Housing Assistance for Needy Families Guide

April 11, 2019
Resources That Can Help Low Income Families Find House

As necessary as housing is, it is always not guaranteed nor easy to secure a personal house. This is as a result of increase in basic housing expenses and high rent costs. Lots of low-income families struggle monthly in order to keep a roof on their heads. The struggle of keeping roof over their heads can increase as rent prices increases especially in highly populated areas where real estate costs have sky-rocketed. Areas like this need housing assistance. Fortunately, the government understands that educators and other community workers can't contribute and do their jobs without housing. To help, it has created programs that are designed to help individuals and families who are in these specific circumstances. These programs make it possible for low-income families to find an affordable place to call home and it is regarded as housing assistance.

Public housing is one of the housing assistance commonly used to help families with low-income keep a roof over their heads. This housing assistance is a government funded program and it’s required of applicants to meet the requirements of the housing assistance strictly for it to be approved. These programs normally base eligibility off of the total income as well as the size of the family, which also helps them determine the size and type of house they will be offered. In most situations, those who are eligible will be selected for an apartment, which is maintained and run by the federal government.

The housing assistance works as the government help to pay a part of the rent, the renter will still be responsible for paying a portion. The housing assistance amount that the government will pay is determined by the income of the family and it can change as that income fluctuates over the years. While some areas may have housing immediately available, this is not the case everywhere. In some cities, there may be a wait list of months or even years until a place becomes available.
Housing assistance works for low-income families as vouchers will be given monthly to help cover their rent. These vouchers are sent to the landlord straight while the renter will be held responsible for any additional cost of rent thereafter. People who get approval for this housing assistance program have more flexibility with where they choose to live as they are not designated to a certain home or apartment building. But, the landlord is required to meet some criteria and be willing to accept the types of payments being given before the housing assistance can be confirmed.

Low-income families that use this housing assistance program must adhere to a specific set of requirements, including taking care of their home so it's always in proper working order. The subsidy that is awarded will vary based on location, rent cost, family size, income, and a variety of other factors. If applicants decide to move in the future, they must have new landlords go through the same approval process in order to receive the voucher.

Apart from renting a home which can be as soon as possible, buying a home is also a worthwhile financial investment. There are federally subsidized loans available for those willing to buy a house with their housing assistance. These feature lower interest rates for those who qualify, which can help minimize the monthly mortgage payment. However, applicants must have a good credit score and be willing to prove they can fulfill the monthly payments. Additional subsidies are available for buyers who choose to purchase a "fixer-upper" and need additional funds to make improvements. Some loan money may even help cover the down payment to make the dream of buying a home more attainable. It's important to read through the fine print of the loan to determine which housing costs are covered.

Housing assistance can also be regarded as government aid and it is available to a variety of individuals who meet certain requirements. There is however different application process for each of these different programs to ensure eligibility. Individuals who are veterans after serving their country are the ones who apply for housing assistance mostly. Those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or HIV may also be eligible for housing subsidies to ensure they have a safe, secure, and permanent place to live. 

Beyond this, there are subsidies and housing options available for individuals who are disabled and need help with housing. While these aids will accommodate finding a home, they may also cover modifications that offer better accessibility for added safety. Some government programs will also assist victims of natural disasters after they lose their home or experience severe structural damage that results in unsafe living conditions.

Financial Aid for Needy Families Guide

April 11, 2019
What You Need to Know About Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families known as TANF is a program that is being funded by the federal government. The TANF aids families that have children. The temporary assistance program for needy families can also be used by women who are in the last 3 months of their pregnancy. The temporary assistance for the needy program does not only provide financial assistance to people, it also helps people find jobs.

Aid to Families and Dependent Children in 1998 was replaced by temporary assistance for needy families’ program. Today, TANF gives out grants to tribal governments, territories and states. The funds are used to pay for services and benefits to help needy families.
The main purpose of TANF is to help the state get a grant. The state would have to prove they are using the funds in a way that will accomplish the goals before they can be approved of the grant. The goals of the TANF are as follows.
Assisting families so that they can care for their children in their homes
Reducing the need for dependency by promoting work, job preparation and marriage
Discouraging people from having children out of wedlock
Encouraging people to form and maintain two-parent families

You can apply for TANF by visiting the Federal Administration for Children and Families because they are the ones responsible for the TANF program. But the eligibility requirements for the TANF program are set by every state. Reviewing and accepting application is also done by the Federal Administration for Children and Families.

This program is for families and women who are in the last three months of their pregnancy. You have to be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen to apply. You also have to live in the state that you are applying in. Your resources, income, age and the age of your children will determine whether you can get help from this program. If you have a child in high school or college, then this can also affect whether you will be eligible for this program.

The TANF program is for people who do not have enough resources and income to cater for their children. Requirements for eligibility, resources and income are set by every state.
TANF recipients are required to be job-ready within two years of getting assistance. However, there are a few exceptions to this. Disabled people and seniors can get a waiver so that they do not have to work. There are also requirements that unmarried teen parent and children have to meet. They need to have satisfactory school attendance.
Single parents have to work for at least 30 hours a week. Two-parent families have to work for at least 35 hours. If you are receiving child care assistance, then you will have to work for 55 hours per week. You will not be penalized for not meeting the work requirements if you cannot find child care.

However, your benefits may be cut if you do not meet the necessary requirements.
The application process for TANF can vary depending on the state that you live. There would be screening before you can be eligible for TANF program. You will be required to submit application for screening.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Can we fix the schools? (Maybe not.)

April 09, 2019
In the 2020 presidential campaign, there is a familiar refrain you can count on: Fix the schools. One of the bedrock values of a nation is having faith in education. Economic inequalities would be narrowed and many people will have the opportunity of reaching their personal potential when we fix the schools. Promise of revitalizing schools is everywhere and there are magical qualities to these proposals. The message seems to be that, if we can find the right combination of ideas, we can unleash education’s uplifting power. Be skeptical.

Major educational proposals are being pitched by at least two Democratic presidential candidates on fix the school. Sen. Kamal D. Harris (Calif) promised to give a lot of teachers a huge increase in their income on an average of $13,500; the argument being that teachers are underpaid. This makes fixing the school difficult and also makes good teachers hard to retain or recruit. Ex-San Antonio who is a mayor Julian Castro meanwhile advocated universal pre-K classes to prepare children for school.
Both ideas sound sensible. But aside from the sizable costs, history suggests that creating gains in achievement and academic skills for the poor is extraordinarily difficult. That’s the finding of a major new study. It reviewed test scores for Americans born between 1954 and 2001 to see how much the achievement gap had closed between students with low and high socioeconomic status.

What we are talking about is not the fact that public policy wasn’t trying to fix the schools, but the discouraging conclusion occurred despite the federal government’s decision to provide extra funding for poor schools under Title I of the Education and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Public schools were previously funded by localities and states mainly. From the space of 1960 to 2015, the overall spending per student nearly quadrupled.

On the achievement gap of fixing the schools, there were little effects. The study was conducted by Eric A. Hanushek and Laura M. Talpey of Stanford University, Paul E. Peterson of Harvard University and Ludger Woessmann of the University of Munich. Tests were given at two ages, 14 and 17. Here are highlights:

The first thing the test brought out was that the central problem why fixing the schools is necessary was because the problems seems to occur in high schools. Tests administered at age 14 actually showed improving student performance. But most of the gains reversed by age 17, just when students were preparing for college or work.

Another thing in fixing the schools is because during this roughly half-century, there was no general rise in achievement which would have been a partial victory. Everyone’s level of achievement will increase even if the gap between top and bottom is not close when we fix the schools.
The population’s changing ethnic and racial composition doesn’t explain the stubborn achievement gap. (In 1980, the population of children ages 5 to 17 was 74.6 percent white, 14.5 percent black, 8.5 percent Hispanic and 2.5 percent other. By 2011, the corresponding figures were 54.2 percent white, 14 percent black, 22.8 percent Hispanic and 8.9 percent other.) Separately, the study found similar trends among whites, suggesting that race or ethnicity aren’t major causes.

In fixing the schools, study did not find contrary to at least one other major study that the achievement gap has actually worsened over the past half-century. This conclusion would qualify as the study’s main bit of good news if it holds up.
Repeatedly, the study’s authors express frustration that they can’t explain what happens in high school to undo previous gains in achievement. They dismiss “senioritis,” the reputed tendency of students to slacken in their studies, as a major cause. They speculate, though they admit that they don’t know, that teaching in high school is harder than at lower levels. “The high school is a broken institution,” Peterson said in an interview. “We need to create more learning opportunities for kids in high school.”

Coleman report conducted by sociologist James Coleman vindicates the earlier results of the earlier research on fix the schools in 1996. Coleman examined the factors that promoted educational success as part of the fix the schools agenda if President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. Coleman discovered that parental education, income and race to be strongly connected to student achievement for fixing the schools while per-pupil expenditures and class size were much less.

The upshot is that schools are being asked to do for their students what families usually do. This is one of the ways to fix the schools. This is a tall order that is probably beyond the capability of most schools. As a society, we should keep trying. But we should not ignore history. The national strategy of controlling the country’s schools — through subsidies and regulatory requirements — has prevailed for half a century. It has failed. The federal government should exit the business of overseeing K-12 education. Federal aid would halt, and the financial loss would be offset by having the national government assume all the states’ Medicaid costs.

More than 750K Could Lose Food Stamp/SNAP Benefits under Proposed National Changes

April 09, 2019
Almost 20% of the death world-wide is as a result of unhealthy diet as was accounted for this week. One can conveniently estimate that to 20 million people. Donald Trump wants to make that number rise by at least three-quarters of a million people with the use of food stamp.
There is a possibility for 750,000 people to lose food assistance later this year with the food stamp aid under a new proposal by the White House administration. The food stamp proposal is meant to encourage Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) to go to work, but it is based on the wrong assumption that these people are lazy and haven’t already been seeking jobs.  The food stamp is not only a classist sentiment; it is also racist.

Professor of agriculture and consumer economics at the University of Illinois, Craig Gundersen tells NPR that the food stamp idea that people are ripping off the system or something that is not true. The payoff isn’t that big for someone looking to ‘cheat the system’. According to statistics from the Center on Budget and Policy Proposals, the average monthly for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit, formerly known as Food Stamps, was only $126 per person in 2016. It is true however, that selling SNAP benefits for cash is illegal and considered to be defrauding the government. This method of “fraud” is on the rise. But many feel that exchanging a $125 dollar food voucher in order to have cash to pay other bills, or other means of survival, isn’t behavior worthy of being demonized or criminalized; it’s a method of survival for those who need help the most.

Supporters of the food stamp bill claim it should be easy to find jobs in this better economy and job market; but the food stamp bill ignores the barriers to work that many people face. For instance, parents are often limited to finding employment that won’t conflict with their kid’s school schedule because the cost of before/after school programs is outrageous. It is believed that many people do t have the means to travel by car to work (or a volunteer site, or job training), and in rural areas public transportation often isn’t available. Formerly incarcerated people are ineligible or overlooked for many positions; the homeless, drug-addicted, and mentally ill struggle as well.
Food stamp assistance would stop after three months for those without disability unless they find employment, get job training or volunteer for at least 20 hours a week with this newly proposed plan. Still, many states waive the requirement because they understand how cruel it would be to those who genuinely need the assistance. The Trump administration now wants to make waivers much harder to get.

The proposed food stamp bill is poorly conceived in other ways too. In an instance where almost 4 million people are forced into job training programs as planned, theis would overload the training officers that weren’t designed to handle the masses of people now facing requirement. This would result in a back log quickly on the food stamp.
Food justice advocates agree that solutions to hunger are systemic, not personal. Most people using food stamp have been pushed to the margins of society through unjust systems, not through lack of trying. These oppressive systems and administrators are not simply “unaware” of the devastating effects they’ve had. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps legislation like this one threatens to leave our most vulnerable communities in real danger, and they know this.

Democrats of the congress have threatened to sue if the bill passes, but this bill hasn’t stood alone. This food stamp bill is part of a broader effort by the classist ad racist administration to make government aid of any kind harder to come by.

The Equifax Hack Affects Millions

April 09, 2019
More personal information of customers than previously thought might have been exposed by the Equifax breach.

Some additional information which include tax IDs and driver’s license details may have been accessed in a hack that affected 145.5 million customers as was recorded by the confidential documents Equifax provided to the Senate Banking Committee seen by CNN.

Has Your Data Been Compromised?  Find Out Here

The disclosure of the Equifax hack follows Equifax (EFX)’s original announcement of the breach in September. This Equifax hack compromised sensitive data like names date of birth, Social Security numbers and home addresses. The company revealed in the original announcement of the Equifax hack that some driver’s license numbers were also exposed. The new documents show that the license state and issue date might have also been compromised.

Equifax hack spokesman in person of Meredith Griffanti told CNNMoney Friday that the original list of vulnerable personal information was never intended to represent the full list of potentiality exposed information. As a result of the Equifax hack, new documents raised questions of how much information hackers may be able to access in Equifax’s cyberattack.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday sent a letter to CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. on the incomplete information provided to Congress following a story in The Wall Street Journal. "As your company continues to issue incomplete, confusing and contradictory statements and hide information from Congress and the public, it is clear that five months after the breach was publicly announced, Equifax has yet to answer this simple question in full: what was the precise extent of the breach?" Warren wrote in the letter.

In the response of Warren to lawmakers, he said the pieces of information Equifax compiled is not exhaustive but represents common personal information that hackers usually search for in the Equifax hack. Bank accounts and lines of credit like a credit card or mortgage can be opened by crimias without the knowledge of the victim.

Are You Safe?  Find Out Here

The more information scammers have about you, the easier it is for them to impersonate you," said Lauren Saunders, associate director at the National Consumer Law Center. "And the easier it is for them to get by the protocols that banks and others use to make sure they are dealing with the right individual.

The Equifax hack happened from May through July 2017. This period was when the hackers exploited a website application vulnerability to gain access to the files as said by the company. One of the three national credit bureaus along with TransUnion and Experian is Equifax. Information on the Equifax hack was gathered on individual to create credit reports which lenders use to determine the risk of a potential borrower.

The agencies gather the information to create the reports from a slew of different sources, including banks, credit card companies, retailers and public records. Federal agencies, state officials and members of Congress are currently probing Equifax over its data security practices, customer service response and the possibility of insider trading from executives. In the response of Equifax to the Equifax hack, they offered free credit freezes through June 30. New accounts will be prevented from being opened when you freeze your account.