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8 Great Cold-Weather Kid-Friendly Activities To Do

Brrrrr…. It’s cold out there! With no end to the winter blast in sight, it can be hard to think of things to do especially with kids cooped up in the house.

Below is a list of 8 great, kid-friendly things to do in Ann Arbor when the snow is swirling and even the university students seem scarce. All are indoors and either free or quite affordable. There are age-appropriate things to do for babies, teens, and adults should have their fair share of fun, too.

8. Go to the Library

library

The five-star Ann Arbor District Library is one of the best places to enjoy in A² in the winter. There are hundreds of upcoming events & activities planned for 2015 across its five branches for babies to teens to adults. Enjoy organized playgroups, concerts, story time, games, crafts and many other events this winter and throughout the year at the wonderful AADL. Don’t forget to check out some books to take home for you and the kids!

7. Go to a Museum

Hands On Museum Ann Arbor 01

With over 250 exhibits for kids to explore, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is a great place to visit during a frigid winter day. Open seven days a week with many special events on their calendar, the Hands-On Museum is an Ann Arbor must-do with children!

Take older kids to enjoy the collections and special exhibits of the University of Michigan Museum of Art. A cultural gem in the heart of the city, take advantage of all that the UMMA has to offer! Open Tuesday through Sunday.

6. Go Get a Bagel
bagels

Family-friendly Barry’s Bagels in the Westgate Shopping Center off of Jackson & Maple is one of Ann Arbor’s favorite bagel places. Meet up with friends for coffee or lunch as little kids are entertained watching bagels being made through a window towards the back.

Bruger’s Bagels on Ann Arbor-Saline Road also has a bagel-viewing window if you’re closer to the center of town.

5. Go Ice Skating

Ice Skating Photo from Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation

It’s a perfect time of year to brush up on those ice-skating and hockey skills! Get some family exercise while having a blast during Open Skate at Veteran’s Indoor Ice Arena & Pool, U-M’s Yost Arena, or the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. Or take advantage of the organized hockey drop-in games for all ages and skill levels. Be sure to check each location’s schedule for these affordable open skate & hockey times.

4. Go Stargazing
stars 2

The University of Michigan’s Museum of Natural History & Planetarium has some wonderful public indoor stargazing viewing events that are educational, inspiring, and far away from the cold, outside air. Be awed by the solar system alongside your kids from the comfort of your seat. View the planetarium public schedule to see view upcoming monthly events.

3. Go Swimming

Mack Pool Photo from Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation

Fun in the water might not be the first thing you think of for winter fun, but there are several pools in the area that offer open swim time to the public year-round. Have fun on affordable one-day pass with your kids at local recreation centers like the Mack Indoor Pool or the Meri Lou Murray Rec Center. Or access a free one-week pass to the Ann Arbor YMCA by applying here.

2. Go Exploring

Cobblestone Farm 02

Cobblestone Farm & Museum is an Ann Arbor historic location built in 1845. Tours of the farm and museum are available by request and every Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. More information available here.

Or check out the Great Lakes Zoological Society’s A World of Discovery. With educational and fun events for toddlers and older kids, this cool spot fosters a sense of conservation in kids as they view “over 100 animals representing over 70 exotic and Michigan indigenous species.”

1. Go Nuts!

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Whirly Ball of Ann Arbor is a fantastic time for both kids and adults! Gather some family and friends, and have a blast zipping around in your WhirlyBug as you try to score against your opponents. Or book a party for kids eight and up, too. May the best whirlers win.

And the kooky fun continues with Zap Zone in Ann Arbor. From laser tag to bumper cars to a classic arcade and even a cannon blaster, how could your kids not expend some pent-up energy here this winter?

So bundle up on your way there, and enjoy your indoor family fun in Ann Arbor this winter.

Click here to visit Brooke Fajardo’s  blog.

 

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Today’s Real Estate Agent and Their Future – The Enterprise Network Annual Holiday Blog Swap [infographic]

Holiday Blog Swap

Real estate has changed so much over the last 50 years; from the “good ole boy” handshake to the 21 page contract and the 10-15 page listing packet. With every step of the way agents have had to learn and revise the way they think when it comes to managing their business.

Just like “paper trail” change for agents, the way we sell real estate now has been a huge game changer for our industry. We have gone from meeting our clients face-to-face to sign documents (this is still the best practice), to the fax machine and now the email scanner to send clients their documents to sign. We now send email or text alerts to our buyers and sellers on properties instead of hand delivering the information.

The number one thing that has changed the Real Estate profession forever is “Technology.”

Love it or hate it, technology has an ever evolving and business changing roll on our industry and that will never go away. The internet changed the face of real estate early in the 1990’s.  Since then syndications of MLS material, social media and blogging have catapulted the way real estate works on an hourly basis. Not only do the agents themselves have to keep up with the latest and greatest, but the brokerages have to stay “in the know” on all technology as well.

When surveying previous clients on how they chose their Realtor, many answer the same way. They want a “tech savvy” agent who promotes their properties anywhere and everywhere. They want their agent at their “mobile” fingertips so that they are able to reach them 24/7.

So, are you the agent or brokerage of the future?

As an agent and/or brokerage it is our responsibility to research what technology works for each client/agent/brokerage. There are so many platforms to choose from and many scams to catch the eye of the agents to attempt to get them to pay for more services that are sometimes even free. This is where the brokerages come in. All brokerages should be helpful and knowledgeable on internet and social media scams.

Training the agents on the rules and regulations of what they are publishing and where to publish them is a good aspect to have in place. To cultivate a “new breed of agent” each brokerage should set out to give the best training they can to their agents. Knowledge is key when it comes to technology.

 

According to The Enterprise Network Agent Survey, the top 3 assets a brokerage can offer an agent: Marketing Tools, Agent Websites and Training.

 

Even showing the oldest agent the simplest steps can prove to their clients “they still have it.”  Agents have shown that they love the training but often feel lost when it comes to putting what they’ve learned into practice. You can’t hold each agents hand through each process, but having a solid training program in place will ensure that you’re cultivating a “new breed of agents” within your brokerage. You’ll be there to answer their questions, re-teach steps, listen to their needs and have a system for following up.

Not every agent is going to get what social media is or even want to participate, especially the seasoned agents. Out of the surveyed agents, 64.1% said they spend 0-5 hours a week on social media. Some younger agents may prefer to only text/facebook/email their clients, however 90% of the general public still want the phone call or the actual presence of their Realtor. Mobile technology and social media is still scary for some agents, but it leads the future on how clients find the properties, agents and brokerages. The bandwagon of the internet from the 1990’s has become the mobile and social media bullet train of the future for real estate.

Let the agents, no matter the age, teach one another the best practices of real estate. When agents work together, things get accomplished. Different generations can teach one another the skills sets they’ve acquired and, when they put them into practice, the cultivating of a new breed of agent comes to life. No matter if you’ve been in the business 50 years or just 5 days.

 

Written by:
Charity Middleton, Realtor
Murney Associates, Realtors

READ MORE HOLIDAY BLOG SWAP ARTICLES HERE

The Enterprise Network Agent Survey Infographic:

What Today's Real Estate Agent Looks Like Infographic

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Use the Good Dishes and Set a Lovely Holiday Table

In my time at the Betty Brigade, I’ve been in many a home in which the kitchen cabinets house the chipped and cracked “everyday dishes,” while the fine china sits in dusty boxes in the attic, flawless and unused.

I’ve seen this situation enough that I’m now a “use-the-good-stuff” advocate. Why should my good china outlive me? Same goes for silverware, although that’s more likely to see the turn of the century than the good china.

Point is, these beautiful things were made to be enjoyed, and what better time to use the special dishes than the holidays?

My other concern is that no one seems to know how to set a table anymore. I know I sound old… but I must be getting old enough that I don’t care how old I sound. (Now that’s OLD.)

Even in the fanciest restaurants, the flatware often sits rolled up inside a cloth napkin, either on the plate or to one side. No wonder no one knows where the fork goes! It may seem like a mystery, but I can vouch for one thing: It’s not that hard.

With more holidays coming and special meals planned, why not make the table a little more fancy? Unpack Grandma’s china, use the real silverware and the crystal wine glasses, if you have them.

Here are a few tips for setting a table:

The fork goes to the left of the plate. The knife, then the spoon go to the right, with the knife’s sharp edge facing the plate. Memory tip: “fork” and “left” both have four letters, while “knife,” “spoon” and “right” all have five letters. Also, utensils are placed in alphabetical order, from left to right — thus, F (fork), K (knife), then S (spoon). If you want to serve salad, you’ll need a salad fork, as well. This smaller fork goes to the left of the dinner fork.

The bread and butter plate goes to the left, above the fork(s), while the water glass goes to the right, above the tip of the knife.

The centerpiece should be low enough for guests to see each other across the table. If the meal is served family style (with serving vessels on the table), keep the centerpiece small and candles close to the centerpiece to avoid accidents when passing dishes.

For a holiday meal, resist the temptation to place a plastic cover over the tablecloth. If you’re lucky enough to have a beautiful tablecloth or runner, use and enjoy it for your holiday meal. Few stains are permanent nowadays.

Nothing makes a meal more special than candlelight. When you have guests, make sure the candles are lit before they enter the dining room, and don’t blow them out until all guests have left the room.

And finally — Happy Holidays!

Judy DiForte is a professional organizer and marketing manager at The Betty Brigade, a relocation and organizing company based in Ann Arbor. Click here to sign up for their newsletter.

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How to Throw a Last-Minute Halloween Party on the Cheap!

BOO!

Ruh roh… The gang is headed to your place for some post trick-or-treating refreshment! But no need to run screaming from the back door. You can do this!

Here are some tips for throwing together a spell-binding Halloween scene – on the cheap, no less!

FOOD: Make a big pot of something they can help themselves to. Chili or sloppy joes are good choices. Set up a buffet area with everything your goblins need: bowls/plates, silverware, napkins, and a basket of buns or corn bread. Have several candles on the buffet. A big bowl of popcorn – and you’re done!

DRINK: If you don’t have time to make blood red punch with dry ice “fog,” no worries! Cider is a perfect beverage for this party.

DÉCOR: Cheap and easy! Gather some colorful leaves, dry them off and flatten them for a couple hours, then scatter them on your buffet table. Have acorns in your yard? Throw them in there, too!

TABLESCAPE: If you have a tablecloth in a fall color, use it! If not, think about using a sheet. A clean flat sheet in a shade of red, orange or brown works fine. For your centerpiece, more candles and a group of small pumpkins or gourds work well. Scatter more leaves around, and voila!

MUSIC: Nothing sets the mood of your party like spooky music. If you don’t have a good CD, find a couple at the library. How about the soundtrack from Halloween? Or play a scary movie on TV during your gathering.

GAMES: They’re not just for kids! Whether your group is grown-up or not, these games are sure to delight!

  • “THE HANDS-FREE DOUGHNUT DEVOUR” Having purchased a dozen or so doughnuts, you hang one by a string just above mouth-height for each contestant. Without using their hands, they must eat the entire doughnut. Sound easy? Try it! For more giggles and shrieks, use powdered sugar doughnuts. (Have clean up supplies at the ready!) We recommend you do this in a non-carpeted area, or put down a drop cloth to catch the inevitable doughnut detritus. Depending on your space, you can have all guests do this at once, or one at a time. For extra fun, time the contestants.
  • “HALLOWEEN BOCCE BALL” Clear out an area in a room for this one. You play regular bocce ball rules, but instead of using bigger bocce balls and a small pallino, you use apples (yellow and red) and a pumpkin!
  • “WHO AM I?” On each guest’s back, place a sticker with the name of a different famous monster or scary villain from a list you’ve prepared ahead of time. The guest must ask ONLY yes-or-no questions to figure out who they are.

PRIZES AND FAVORS: The dollar store is your friend! If you’re not familiar, check it out! You’ll find everything you need for candy, decorations, silly prizes, even costume props.

CAMERA AT THE READY! Record the fun on video or snap pix throughout the party, and send them to the guests the next day – possibly with blackmail instructions.

Remember, your goal is FUN – not perfection. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Judy DiForte is marketing manager for The Betty Brigade, a concierge company specializing in relocation, organizing and event planning, based in Ann Arbor. To sign up for The Betty Brigade newsletter, click here.

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Top 10 Items To Add To Your Honey-Do List to Avoid a Homeowner’s Claim – Part 3

Well, the weather is turning cooler and with the leaves changing colors you know they’ll soon be dropping. Have you had a chance to inspect your gutters yet? Let’s look at the last four items on our Honey-Do list to avoid those homeowner claims.

#4. Failure to Clean Fire Events!

The lint trap, vents, and surrounding areas of the clothes dryer can be a potential source for fires. Of course you already know never to leave your dryer running when you are away from home. FEMA reports about 2900 dryer fires occur yearly. Some of these fires due to the lint build up, other times birds or other small animals may make nests in the tubing creating a problem with the air flow. Promise yourself to clean the trap after each use!

#3. To Light or not to Light- that is the Question!

You’ve heard that song “Blowing In the Wind”? I just want to remind you to keep open flames from candles away from windows with a potential for drapes and curtains to be blown into contact with the candle flame. Newer technology allows for that candle light flicker with battery operated candles and eliminates the potential fire to start from an unattended flame.

#2. Sweep it Clean – Your Chimney that is!

The National Fire Protection Agency suggests an annual cleaning of your fireplace/chimney. Chimney sweeps will tell you it’s good idea to clean after burning 1-2 cords of wood. They recommend an annual inspection to catch small cracks, capping issues or animal that may have become caught in the chimney. Inspections are much less expensive than cleanings and both the inspection & cleaning are far less expensive than a home fire resulting from a maintenance issue.

#1. Exercise! –Your Water Valve that is!

I know you thought I was talking about your New Years resolution, eh? Just like health experts recommend drinking 8 glasses of water & getting in 10,000 steps a day as well, your house would love it if you exercised the “shut off valves” at least 2x a year! It’s simple: turn them off & then back on. Think about it, when you don’t stretch and move your flexibility decreases, right? Well, when you need it most – when a pipe breaks, don’t you want your shut off valves working as well? Moving parts can corrode & accumulate mineral scale causing them to become inoperable. Here a few to consider exercising: main valve, sinks, toilets, & washer. Three you may not have thought of: valve to refrigerator icemaker, cold water valve going INTO the to water heater & flush valve at the BOTTOM of your water heater. All your valves need a little TLC. Mark your valve exercise for January when we all promise to exercise a little more and June when we know we should be exercising a little more!

With just a little weekly attention you can take care of some simple tasks to reduce the potential for a home owner’s claim with your insurance company.  Enjoy your home!

Click here to read Part 1

Click here to read Part 2

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Top 10 Items To Add To Your Honey-Do List to Avoid a Homeowner’s Claim – Part 2

We continue to work our way through the Top 10 items on your Honey-Do list that might help you avoid a homeowner’s claim. This week’s suggestions all are water related tasks that will help protect your home from both the inside & outside. Let’s get started – some will be fall related tasks, so have that maintenance calendar handy. Schedule them now & get these tasks off your plate as soon as possible.

#7. Paint – It’s not just for an art gallery canvas!
Sun, wind, & rain normally erode away paint on exterior wood over a period of 8 to 10 years. Take a walk around your home. Be vigilant in looking for wear spots on your paint. Remember Henry Landau’s words, “Your house is not a boat – keep water out!” Exterior bare wood is screaming for your help. Also, look for signs of blistering and peeling paint – signs that moisture may have already penetrated behind your paint and need your immediate attention! Think scraping, sanding, priming, & painting – all necessary steps to give your home the protection it needs.

#6. Show your sump pump some love!
If you have a sump pump it may be a little easier to sleep at night – it almost feels like an extra insurance policy, doesn’t it? Perhaps you’ve added a back up sump to your sump after last summer’s floods? Well, just to let you know, you can get a back up to your back up insurance policy – there’s now an alarm system than can be installed to your sump and is perhaps also offered through your home’s alarm system company. Private residential alarm companies now offer alerts should flooding be detected. If you’re not aware of that option you may want to discuss it with the company monitoring your home.
A couple quick checks for you to maintain your sump:

  • Clean the pump inlet screen.
  • Check your power cord to make sure it’s connected to power.
  • Dump a bucket of water into the sump to raise the float and make sure the pump turns on.

#5. Gutters – clean ones are a house’s best friend!
Moss, pine needles, and leaves can lead to clogged gutters, which in heavy rains can cause a gutter failure. Water that’s normally directed to drain away from your home finds alternate paths often into your interior, sometimes leading to roof, fascia, foundation, and basement damage.

Home maintenance schedules suggest cleaning gutters 2x a year. Clean gutters in the fall, naturally. Some trees, like oaks, will drop their leaves when first buds appear in the spring, surprisingly! Another option you may be interested in looking into are gutter guards, which may reduce down the amount of time you spend with this task!

I know you’ll be working hard over the next few weeks and months to knock some of these tasks off your list. Just relax & enjoy that satisfying feeling of a job well done & the knowledge you’re doing all you can to follow Henry Landau’s suggestion to “Keep water out!”

Click here to read Laura Spensley’s first guest blog post in this three part series.

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Book Basics: How to Pack Your Volumes Safely

If you thought all those hours of Tetris were a waste of time, think about packing a box of books. You’re highly trained!

Before the launch of the school year, lots of folks are moving or shipping books. It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are dos and don’ts when it comes to packing them safely.

If you’re moving out of state, cull your books before packing, as you’ll be paying by weight. Ask yourself, am I likely to read this again, and if so, could I easily get it from a library? Even paperbacks are heavy and can contribute considerably.

Once you’ve scaled your library down, it’s time to pack.

  • Use small boxes, as medium or large will be too heavy and more apt to be dropped, damaging toes or the books inside, or landing on other boxes.
  • Always start by lining the box with plain newsprint paper.
  • Group the books by size.
  • If you’re packing books out of a bookcase, pack from the bottom shelf up and have your boxes nearby. After you fill the first box, place the second box on top of the first. That way you are working from bottom to top from your bookcase into the boxes.

Books can be packed any of these three ways:

  • Flat on their backs
  • Standing upright
  • Sideways, with their spines downward and pages facing up

You’ll probably find using a mix of these methods works best, to fill in odd pockets of space. This is where your Tetris skills come in! And the best part: the books don’t have to speed up as they go in the box!

There will invariably be some leftover space in each box. Use crumpled packing paper, peanuts or bubble wrap to snugly fill the gaps.

Never pack books with pages facing down, as this stresses the spines and can bend the covers and pages.

Magazines are best stacked flat.

There is some disagreement about whether, when books are standing upright, their spines or their open edges should be touching the side of the box. The Betty Brigade believes it’s safest to touch the open edge of the book to the side of the box, and then pack another section of books “spine-to-spine” against the first section.

Pages should never be touching pages, whether the books are hardback or paperback. If you start another row next to an outward facing row of books, place paper between the rows, and turn the books sideways to the open-faced books.

When pages must face pages, separate them with packing paper.

Don’t pack books too tightly together, or you may damage them when unpacking later. For fragile books, photo albums or first editions, line the box with bubble wrap first. Wrap these volumes in craft or packing paper (not newspaper) and separate them with cardboard to keep them from damaging each other.

Before sealing a box, always cover the top layer with a sheet or two of packing paper.

If you’ll be storing the books for awhile, try to get a climate-controlled storage unit, so the books aren’t subject to high heat or moisture. Also if you have precious books in storage, wrap them with acid-free paper, which won’t rot or discolor over time.

Okay, now we just have to figure out how to use of your World of Warcraft skills…

Judy DiForte is a professional organizer for The Betty Brigade, an Ann Arbor-based concierge company specializing in move coordination, organizing, event planning and pet care. Leave a comment below or email her at judy@bettybrigade.com.

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Top 10 Items To Add To your Honey-Do List to Avoid a Homeowner’s Claim!

Reinhart Realtor Pat Durston recently shared a quote from one of Ann Arbor’s premier builders Henry Landau as he would hand over the homeowner the keys to their new home, “Your house is not a boat, keep water out!” Over the next few weeks I’ll give you suggestions to put on your Honey –Do list to not only keep water out but other tips to avoid a home owner’s claim to your Home Sweet Home!

Let’s get started with # 10:

#10 –  Give it a shot – of caulk that is!


Just like you received immunizations as a child your home may also need a booster shot – of caulk that is! Over time cracks can develop in your grout, & caulking can decay allowing water into your floors and walls. FYI, this type of damage may not be covered because it happens over time and is a maintenance issue. Be sure to ask your insurance agent about what types of losses might be considered maintenance issues as you discuss your homeowners’ policy!

If you can pull a trigger on a squirt gun you will be amazed at your caulking abilities!

 

#9 – Give it a flush – your water heater that is!

If your water heater’s feeling it’s age 5-10 years old (oh to be so young? Right!) industry standards suggest inspection at 5 years by a qualified tech and replacement after 10 years. Sediment tends settle to the bottom which then rusts leading to…. Well you can envision the mess! A mini flush will help remove the sediment from the tank & improve its efficiency as well.

Check out these 4 easy steps to perform a mini flush by Bob Formisano at: About.com.

 

#8 – Trim it, trim it! Yes, your trees not your hair!


While we love the trees around our homes to grow and provide shade in the heat of summer, trees that have grown too close to the roof with branches resting on it act like a broom. With each gentle breeze or gust that comes along the branches touching your roof wear away at the protective coating on your shingles. Trim those branches away from your roof, keeping an eye out for power lines for your safety. Give your roof a quick once over – replace loose shingles and missing ones. Water spots on your ceiling are tell-tale signs there’s trouble overhead! If this task seems daunting, put your favorite arborist on speed dial to give you a hand!
Those are some big tasks to add to your Honey-Do list. Pull out your home maintenance calendar and schedule those tasks for yourself or your favorite handy person! Check back next week and the countdown will continue!

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Working and Still Broke

Each morning most Washtenaw residents roll over hit their alarm clock and get ready for work or school. With unemployment rates dropping below 10% last year and below 8% this past spring, many think people in our county are doing “just fine.”

The problem for folks in poverty is that many are currently working. With minimal wage below $8, making it by without assistance can be a great challenge. Here are a few facts to consider when thinking about people struggling to stay out of debt and pay their bills:

  • A person working 40 hours a week, making $9 an hour, will end up making just over $300 a week after taxes.
  • The vast majority of low-income workers monthly health-care premiums are around a week’s salary ranging from $150 to $288 a month.
  • The average cost for daycare in Washtenaw County is around $900 a month.
  • The average cost for a one bedroom apartment is around $650 in Washtenaw County and over $800 in Ann Arbor.
  • A lack of affordable housing is the number one reason for homelessness in the United States. Affordable housing is defined as paying 30% of your income.
  • With over 4,000 homeless including 2,000 homeless families the challenges of housing are great.

The United Way of Washtenaw County helped provide funding for programs and services that reached over 90,000 people last year. Services and Programs such as food for food pantries, daycare scholarships, free medical care, housing for the homeless, and relief for people struggling with utility bills are just some of the programs were believe in. Most of all we believe that everyone deserves a chance to get by, that people sometimes need help to support their families, and that neighbors helping each other make a strong and healthy community.

If you are interested in learning more check out the poverty simulator. Some folks in Durham, NC put together a “poverty simulator” for the Urban Ministries of Durham. Here is the link: http://www.playspent.org/ — let’s see if you can make it through a month.

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What is the Housing Bureau for Seniors?

What is the Housing Bureau for Seniors and what does it do?
Since 1983, the Housing Bureau for Seniors has been a wealth of knowledge and experience and a valuable resource for seniors and their families as they navigate through life’s transitions. We provide a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of seniors, create community awareness of aging and senior housing related issues and link seniors and caregivers to needed community services.

 

Elderly Eviction Prevention
Preventing homelessness among seniors who live in rental properties is the main goal of the Elderly Eviction Prevention program. Physical frailties, memory disorders, and mental illnesses contribute to elderly renters forgetting to pay their bills, their ability to maintain clean and sanitary apartments and other difficulties that violate a lease agreement. Suddenly eviction is imminent. We can help by providing a comprehensive assessment of a client’s needs:

  • Identify and resolving problems with senior tenants before eviction is threatened or providing relocation to appropriate housing, if needed;
  • Maintain positive relationships with area landlords and property managers so they are sensitive to senior housing issues; and
  • Work with our network of public and private agencies to find solutions to the problems senior tenants face in trying to manage their living spaces.

For more information, contact Harriet Bakalar at (734) 998-9355.
Foreclosure Prevention
In cooperation with the City of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and others, we work closely with the Washtenaw County Treasurer to help seniors avoid losing their homes to foreclosure.

In partnership with AARP, we host free tax assistance programs throughout the tax season. Our tax preparation volunteers prepare federal and state income taxes, as well as screen participants for eligibility for tax credits, property tax deferments and property tax hardship applications. All seniors are eligible to participate in this program.

For more information, contact Janet M. Hunko, L.L.M.S.W., (734) 998-9431.

 


HomeShare Program
HomeShare is an alternative way of meeting housing needs. It offers numerous benefits to renters and homeowners alike. People share housing for different reasons, including: companionship, personal safety, help with chores, or to offset the rising cost of rents, taxes, utilities, and maintenance, live in a house that is now too large since their children have left home, or they may be one-parent families, single elderly persons or elderly couples. In all these situations, the homeowner may find it difficult to cope with the responsibilities of maintaining a household.

Renters may be graduate students, newly divorced persons, professionals recently moved to the area, or anyone in need of low cost housing who seeks the comforts of a home living environment and enjoys living with others.

Simply put, HomeSharing is an arrangement where two or more unrelated people (one individual must be 55 years of age or older) share a dwelling, each having private space along with shared common areas. A shared arrangement might involve a homeowner and a renter, or two or more people renting a house or apartment together. HomeSharers may arrange a regular rental agreement or exchange services for part or all of the rent. No two HomeSharing situations are alike; each is tailored to the needs and desires of the people involved.

The HomeShare Coordinator, along with trained volunteers, explores potential matches with appropriate home seekers through a careful screening process that includes visits to the homeowner’s home, personal interviews and individual introductions, and follow-up contacts to ensure a successful experience for both home providers and home seekers.

For more information, contact Ryan Cowmeadow at (734) 998-9345.

 

Housing Counseling Program
The Housing Counseling Program helps older adults in the area consider their housing and health care choices when they are thinking about staying in their own home or moving into new living arrangement. We work with you and your family to evaluate housing and health care alternatives that take into consideration such factors as your personal values, your need for care, safety, privacy, social connections and transportation, as well as affordability.

We offer resources and options for staying in your home as well as living and care options that are available in senior housing communities. Counseling and information is offered on:

  • maximizing home options for your living (home modification, home repair and weatherization, downsizing resources, emergency response systems, fall risk prevention and home safety, understanding the difference: in-home care and skilled home health care services, understanding reverse mortgage, respite care for day time needs and overnight stay)
  • senior independent living communities (low-cost senior housing, retirement residences)
  • assisted living care (adult foster care, homes for the aged, memory care communities)
  • nursing homes (all age communities, active living lifestyles for 55+, cooperative housing, manufactured homes, market rate and subsidized apartment complexes, public housing and Section 8 Voucher Program, tips for long distance caregiving)

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Justine Bykowski, M.A. at (734) 998-9346.

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