December29,2014

Easy Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency for Comfort and Savings

A photo of Allison Casey.

By Allison Casey, Writer and Web Content Strategist (Contract) for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory

When you think of making improvements around the house to save energy, the prospect may be a little daunting. You may think of big purchases like a new, energy-efficient furnace or larger projects, such as adding insulation. While those are great ideas, there are many smaller things you can do yourself to improve the efficiency of your home. So whether you’re ready to tackle a smaller project or need assistance for something larger to help make your home more comfortable, read on to see what projects and programs are available to improve your home’s efficiency.

Smaller Projects

First, the easy things! A few simple habits and fixes can do a lot to keep you comfortable and save you money during the cold winter months.

Windows

If the room feels drafty and cold air seems to come in through the windows, be sure your windows are sealed. Use caulk to seal cracks less than a quarter inch in width on the non-movable parts of your window, mainly around the frame and where the trim meets the wall. Use weather stripping on the movable parts of your window to reduce air leakage.

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April09,2014

Individuals Living with HIV/AIDS Fight Back against Housing Discrimination

A photo of Bryan Greene, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

By Guest Blogger Bryan Greene, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

“Suddenly, there were no more one-bedroom apartments available,” says Keith, describing his experience searching for rental housing in New York City with a voucher for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Although brokers initially told Keith that apartments were available in his price range, they refused to rent to him once they found out that he received a subsidy from the city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration.

Having a safe, stable place to call home is especially critical to persons with HIV/AIDS, for whom housing affects their access to healthcare and their ability to receive treatment. Yet Keith found that, after encountering refusal after refusal, his housing options were limited to substandard apartments, often unfinished and in no condition for a person to live.

Enough was enough. With the assistance of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit organization whose operations are partly funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Keith brought a lawsuit against one of New York City’s largest real estate rental brokers and a second company   ̶  and he won. In 2012, a judge ruled in favor of Keith and ordered the companies to pay damages and change their practices under a local law prohibiting discrimination based on source of income. By asserting his rights, Keith made a difference not only for himself, but for others who might have experienced similar discrimination.

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February21,2014

Accessible Housing for Everyone

A photo of Allan Checkoway, a Principal of Disability Services Group, Employee Benefit Advisors

By Guest Blogger Allan Checkoway, Author and Principal of Disability Services Group, Employee Benefit Advisors

If you’re in the process of buying your very first home and you don’t have any physical limitations, why bother searching for an accessible home that features universal design? There’s actually no reason not to. But first, let’s consider your likelihood of ever needing an accessible home.

The day we’re born, every one of us has the opportunity to live to age 85 or longer. The lifestyles we create for ourselves (e.g., abusing alcohol, smoking, being overweight or exercising diligently and eating healthy meals) often contribute to how long we remain alive on this planet. The Council for Disability Awareness reports that a working age American will experience a long-term disability every seven seconds! Most are ill prepared when it happens. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 54 million of our fellow Americans are classified as “disabled.” That represents a startling 12 percent of the total population, and many of them are not living in accessible homes.

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April30,2013

Fair Housing Month Update #2: Fair Housing includes Protections for Group Homes for People with Disabilities

Photograph of a man and a woman with Down Syndrome playing with a dogBy Guest Blogger Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

At the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), we recognize that group homes often provide people with disabilities important opportunities to live in mainstream community settings.  That’s why we are committed to keeping neighborhoods open to group homes for people with disabilities, in accordance with the Fair Housing Act.

Earlier this month, we announced a $90,000 settlement reached with the seller of a house in Worcester, Massachusetts, the real estate brokerage firm Coldwell Banker, and the law firm Bowditch & Dewey LLP, resolving allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against discriminating against people with disabilities.

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April15,2013

Fair Housing Month Update: HUD Takes on Discrimination against People with Disabilities in Mortgage Lending

Picture of different colored houses

By Guest Blogger Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Happy Fair Housing Month! This year, we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act.  This would be a happier occasion if we could announce that we had eradicated unlawful housing discrimination. We can at least take this time to acknowledge the progress we have made.

In today’s blog, I would like to bring to your attention mortgage lending practices which the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has alleged unlawfully discriminate against borrowers with disabilities, and the relief we have obtained for such borrowers.

Let’s begin with the story of a woman named Renee. When Renee applied for a loan from Bank of America to purchase a home in Michigan, she probably did not expect to be asked about her disability or to be asked to provide medical information from a doctor.  Yet that was what she said happened.  She and other borrowers alleged that Bank of America had a policy of requiring homebuyers with disabilities to submit a letter from a doctor establishing that they would continue to receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits for at least three years.  In some cases, borrowers said the bank inquired about the nature and severity of their disabilities.

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