Area Agency on Aging Offering Free Education Series for Family Caregivers

Allegheny dept of aging

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services’ Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is offering a free education series for caregivers of older adults. This series is for nonprofessional caregivers and is designed to help them gain an understanding of how to provide care for a loved one.

The series will run once a month in May, June, July and August, at the AAA offices, 2100 Wharton Street, Pittsburgh, second floor.  All sessions are from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participants will receive information booklets on all topics covered. Registration is required and space is limited. Caregivers may sign up for one session or multiple sessions.

The following is a list of training dates and topics:

Friday, May 15
Topics: Home safety and general caregiving skills

Tuesday, June 9
Topics: Helping your loved one move and assisting with personal care

Thursday, July 16
Topics: Legal and financial issues and caring for the caregiver

Friday, August 14
Topics: Healthy eating and caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

For more information, or to register, call 412-350-4996

Health Department Offers Funds for Home Energy Upgrades

ACHDlogo     GTECH strategies logo

The Allegheny County Health Department, in a partnership with Growth Through Energy and Community Health (GTECH) Strategies, is offering homeowners an opportunity to receive funds for investing in whole-home energy upgrades that reduce energy consumption and improve indoor air quality.

The Healthy Homes Incentive Program (HHIP) will provide up to $2,500 in funds to the first 100 qualified applicants who invest at least $5,000 in whole-home energy upgrades.  Only non-smoking homeowners in Allegheny County are eligible to apply for the program.

Improving indoor air quality is important because the average American spends 90% of their time indoors, and it is estimated that indoor air pollutants are often two to five times higher than those found outdoors.

Participants will be walked step-by-step through the entire energy upgrade process.  Homeowners receive consultation and guidance through an energy audit, which will provide an outline of the exact scope of work needed to make their home more energy efficient.  The retrofits may include insulation, air sealing, ventilation, moisture control and other whole-home energy, health and safety measures.

Homeowners interested in participating should call Nicole Miller of GTECH Strategies at 412-361-2099, extension 7.  Applicants will be asked to provide up to 13 months of utility data for their homes.

The program is funded by a $300,000 grant from the Allegheny County Clean Air Fund.

HHIP is being administered by GTECH Strategies’ ReEnergize Pgh Program. GTECH Strategies is a 501(c)3 social enterprise that cultivates the unrealized potential of people and places by creating opportunities in the green economy that improve the economic, social and environmental health of communities.  For more information about GTECH Strategies, please visit www.gtechstrategies.org.

Apply now for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

liheap_logo

Do you or someone you know need help paying heating bills this winter?  The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now accepting applications.  The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, helps low-income families pay their heating bills. LIHEAP is a grant that offers assistance in the form of a cash grant, sent directly to the utility company.  LIHEAP also offers a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program will accept applications through April 4, 2014.  There are three different ways you can apply for LIHEAP, online, on paper, or in person.

1. You can apply for the LIHEAP benefits online by using COMPASS. COMPASS is the name of the website where you can apply for LIHEAP and many other services that can help you make ends meet.

2. Download an application for LIHEAP benefits by clicking on the links below and return it to your local county assistance office.

English- Energy Assistance Application
Spanish-Energy Assistance Application

3. File an application at your local county assistance office.

For more details about LIHEAP, click here.

Free assistance withs PA property tax / rent rebate forms

Volunteers from LIFE Pittsburgh will be at the Carnegie Library Lawrenceville branch at 279 Fisk Street each Wednesday in April to assist with the preparation of PA-1000 Property Tax or Rent Rebate forms.
Half hour appointments will be scheduled from 12 – 3 p.m. and you must call the library at 412-682-3668
to schedule an appointment.

Once you have an appointment, you’ll need to make sure you have the following:

1. Your PA-1000 Form.
2. Verification of rent or property tax paid.
3. Verification of all 2012 income (social security, pension, unemployment, etc.)
4. Proof of age (only if filing for the first time).
5. Proof of Disability (only if filing for the first time).
6. An envelope and stamp.

The Library also has PA-1000 forms on hand if you did not receive one.
Note:  Assistance is with the PA-1000 form only. No other federal, state or local forms will be filled out.  Call 412-682-3668 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Free tax preparation services for low-income wage earners

Are you a working individual whose annual income is less than $20K or a member of a household whose total annual income is less than $40K?  Are you interested in having a trained person help you e-file your federal, state and local income tax returns for FREE?  Are you determined to keep all of your tax refund instead of using a huge part of it to pay for filing fees and interest on “rapid refund” loans?

The Allegheny County Money In Your Pocket Coalition is working to get the highest possible tax refund for wage-earners whose annual incomes do not exceed $20,000 for an individual or $40,000 for a household that includes at least one dependent.  Single parents, parents of adult children with a disability, veterans, dislocated workers, people who don’t “have to” file, and independent students are some of the groups that have taken advantage of this service in the past.

This year, DHS is offering free tax preparation services by-appointment-only at the Human Services Building in Downtown Pittsburgh, Monday through Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. from January until April 15.

The HSB has free parking behind the building after 4:30 for participants. The lot entrance is on Fort Pitt Boulevard. The HSB is also accessible by several bus routes, with stops at the Smithfield Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard sides of the building. Get directions to One Smithfield Street

Call 2-1-1 to see if you qualify for this FREE service and to schedule your one-hour appointment at the Human Services Building, One Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15222.

Complete list of MIYP tax preparation locations
More details about the program including eligibility requirements and what to bring

Announcing the Polish Hill Pivotal Streets Façade Renovation Grant Program

The PHCA is delighted to announce the Polish Hill Pivotal Streets Façade Renovation Grant Program.  Each residential property owner in Polish Hill is eligible to apply for a 1-to-1 matching grant of up to $5,000 to renovate the façade (street-facing side) of their property.  Awardees must contribute the project match amount and all amounts over the maximum $5,000 match.  Grant amounts less than $250 will not be considered, meaning the façade renovation project must cost at least $500.  Grant funds are reimbursed after the work is completed — in other words, the awardee must pay for the renovations upfront before receiving the grant money.

Renovation possibilities include:

✒ Replace gutters, siding, windows and doors
✒ Paint trim or porches
✒ Plant permanent landscaping
✒ Repair or replace sidewalks, steps or retaining walls
✒ Receive a bonus for energy efficiency improvements

Stuck on what to do? Select renovation ideas from the Pivotal Streets Design Guide.

Eligibility: Polish Hill residential property owners — owner-occupied and rental — who are ready to begin their projects!  Applications are due by March 30, 2013, awards will be announced by April 30, 2013  Reimbursement checks are issued when work is completed.

An independent committee of volunteer professionals will review applications and award funds. Grants are competitive and funds are limited.  Program funded by the PNC Foundation and Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development.

Here are the program guidelines, and here is the application.
Questions?  Contact us at 412.681.1950 or email us.

(Above:  Illustration courtesy of Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects, from the Pivotal Streets Design Guide)

Free Tax Preparation assistance from low and middle-income residents

Allegheny County residents should know about the Money in Your Pocket (MIYP) Coalition Free Tax Preparation Campaign, which helps financially struggling individuals and families file their 2013 federal, state and local tax returns. There are 11 locations staffed with IRS-trained tax preparers throughout Allegheny County.

Now in its fifth year, the free tax preparation campaign helps low and middle-income workers maximize their tax refunds by claiming valuable state and federal tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Services are provided free of charge, offering clients a cost-saving alternative to expensive commercial tax preparation fees.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a federal tax credit for people who work but do not earn high incomes. Taxpayers who quality for and claim the credit pay less federal tax, pay no tax at all, or even get a tax refund. Qualified residents could be eligible for a refund between $475 and $5,891.

IRS-trained tax preparers help residents get the refund they deserve without expensive service fees and without predatory “payday” loans. In today’s economy, more workers may qualify due to reduced incomes. EITC can make their lives a little easier. The credit can increase their federal income tax refunds by up to $5,981, depending on their individual circumstances. But to get their EITC, they must know about the credit, then file and specifically claim it.

The Money in Your Pocket Coalition wants to reach every working individual who may qualify for EITC, including:

·         Newly eligible taxpayers, due to changes in their income, marital or parental status during 2012;

·         Self-employed individuals;

·         Workers with disabilities;

·         Workers in non-traditional situations, such as grandparents raising grandchildren;

·         Childless workers, especially those whose earnings may be too low to require filing; and

·         Workers with limited English proficiency.

To get started, individuals may call 2-1-1, the free hotline providing easy access to health, housing and human services information. This year, PA 2-1-1 Southwest is taking MIYP tax calls and scheduling appointments. In addition, PA 2-1-1 staff are making referrals to MyFreeTaxes.com, a resource for those residents with incomes higher than the MIYP limits, but not exceeding $57,000. Call specialists can also talk with residents about other resources available to help them in times of need.

Through April 15, 2013, volunteers will help Allegheny County residents whose annual incomes do not exceed $20,000 for an individual or $40,000 for a household that can claim at least one dependent. Residents can receive their refund in as little as 9 days.

For more information about the Free Tax Preparation Campaign, visit the Money In Your Pocket Coalition website at www.pghfreetaxes.org or dial 2-1-1.

Find out more about the impact MIYP makes in our community by watching this one-minute video to learn how “Every Dollar Matters“.

Get $35 for your old refrigerator/freezer

We just found out about this great new program from Construction Junction’s weekly e-blast and are taking the liberty of re-posting it:

Do you have an old refrigerator cooling a few items in your basement or garage?  Did you know it may be using up to four times the electricity of a new model?  With all that leftover energy, you could save up to $150 a year on your electric bill.

Duquesne Light’s Watt Choices program will pay you $35 to recycle that old, energy-wasting refrigerator or freezer and will haul it away at no charge.  You’ll receive your rebate check within six weeks of pickup.  Our program partner, JACO Environmental, will break down your old refrigerator and 95 percent of the components will be recycled.  Reducing your energy use also reduces the need for more power plants as well as the environmental impact of energy generation.

To schedule a pick-up date and time…  Call 1-877-270-3521 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, and between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays or schedule online.

There are a few requirements for program participation:

1.  This program is available to Duquesne Light residential customers on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is expended.
2.  The refrigerator must be clean and empty on the day of pick up, and in working condition.
3.  The unit must meet the size requirement, which is 10 cu ft – 30 cu ft.
4.  You must have an active electric account with Duquesne Light at the address where you would like us to pick up the refrigerator.
5.  There is a limit of two (2) units per customer address per calendar year.
6.  You must provide clear and safe access to your appliances for the removal team.  They will not risk injury or be able to move personal effects or modify your home (e.g.: remove door or railings) to remove the unit(s).

In addition to your $35 recycling incentive, if you have purchased a new refrigerator or freezer after 11/30/2009, you can obtain an appliance rebate application for your new purchase.

Apply early for home heating assistance

The application period for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) opened on November 1, and we encourage residents to apply soon.  The federal funding for the program was cut almost by half, and as a consequence the available funds will run out quickly.

As a consequence of the funding cuts, there are a number of changes in LIHEAP.  Changes include income guidelines, which have been raised, and the amounts granted will be smaller (the previous minimum was $300, now it’s $100.)  The Tribune-Review ran a good article two days ago that reviewed the changes in LIHEAP and discussed the impact of the funding cuts.

Online application for LIHEAP is through Compass, the state human services assistance site.  Click here for information, and here is the application.  You can also apply in person, at the Human Services Building, One Smithfield Street, 1st floor; or by mail.  To get an application, print the online form, or we can print one for you at the PHCA office.

Please vote "Yes" on the library initiative on Election Day, Nov. 8

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, and there’s an important initiative up for voters to consider.  Councilman Patrick Dowd has been talking about Our Library, Our Future at Council to Go meetings for months now.  The initiative was actually born when he asked a question at a Polish Hill Council to Go meeting last year:  “Would you pay slightly higher taxes to help support the Carnegie Library system?”  Residents at the meeting said, “Yes, we would be happy to do that”.

Residents across the area responded in similar fashion.  Particularly in difficult economic times, people see the library as an essential service and support system.  Not only is it a place to get books, magazines, music, movies and more; it’s a resource for job seekers, a place where you can use a computer, get assistance and find information on any topic imaginable, and a place with a wide variety of programs for adults and kids.

The tax increase would be tiny –someone whose house was worth $50,000, would pay about $12 more a year.  This seems pretty reasonable for a system that produces tangible benefits to residents (and provides jobs as well).  Please consider supporting the library initiative.  And no matter whether you decide to support the library, we hope you get out on Election Day and vote — it’s more important now than ever.

For those new residents who haven’t voted here before:  Polish Hill’s polling place is in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church Rosary Hall.  Enter via the door next to the church yard, on Brereton Street.