Posted by: mrobayna | October 5, 2011

New Fees for Debit Cards

Last week, Bank of America announced that it would begin to charge $5 a month for customers who used debit cards for purchases. Starting this month, Bank of America joins SunTrust and Regions Bank in charging debit card users, with Wells Fargo and Chase also testing debit card fees in certain states. So far Bank of America will only charge the fee to customers who use their debit cards, so checking customers who have a debit card but don’t use it will not be charged.

Many consumers in recent years have moved from using credit cards for purchases in favor of debit cards. Because debit cards are directly linked to the money in your checking account, using a debit card for purchases has traditionally helped curb unnecessary spending. With the new fees, many consumer advocates fear that spending will revert to credit cards. They warn that since credit cards charge interest for balances that aren’t paid in full by the end of the billing period, switching from debit to credit may tempt some to not pay off their full balance, causing interest charges to accrue.

Overall, a recent study conducted by bankrate.com showed that debit cards aren’t the only fees banks are implementing. According to the annual report, all kinds of bank fees have hit new highs. This includes higher fees for bank ATMs used by customers of other banks, higher fees for bounced check, and banks charging fees for “free” checking accounts that don’t maintain a certain balance or have money direct deposited into the account.

With banking fees on the rise, it’s important that we as consumers take note of what our banks are charging us. Here are some things you can to do avoid getting slammed with fees from your bank:

  • Review your bank account’s current fee policies – Make sure you know what your bank is charging you for, and how much. The only way you can successfully avoid getting charged fees is by fully understanding what services your bank has agreed to provide to you for free, and what services it will charge you for.
  • Don’t use “out-of-network” ATMs – Only use ATMs belonging to your bank. If that isn’t a viable option, you can also consider finding a bank that uses either a network of ATMs or reimburses you for ATM fees from using out-of-network ATMs.
  • Consider switching to a bank that doesn’t charge fees for debit card usage – While many larger banks are starting to implement these fees, many smaller local banks and credit unions still offer no fees for using your debit card on purchases. Some banks even reward you for using your debit card!
  • Don’t switch all your debit card purchases to credit card purchases – Credit cards charge interest for balances that aren’t paid in full after the end of the billing period. Try to limit credit card use for purchases that you know you can pay off. You should also find low-interest credit cards for purchases that you plan to finance over a longer period of time.

Sources: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/29/banks-adding-debit-card-fees/

http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/fees-fees-everywhere-higher-bank-fees/

Posted by: mlbrea | August 15, 2011

Arts at Spencer Row

The residents of Spencer Row have begun an art project lead by a local artist, Anyahlee Suderman. The project will consist of beautifying the Spencer Row community room by installing permanent pieces of art, which the residents will create to give the space a greater meaning of home.

Little Ms. Maria Barhoma making paper beads

The group of approximately 14 residents has met for 3 sessions. The sessions have allowed the group to spend up to 2. 5 hours working on the first half of the project; to create a beaded curtain for 1 of the windows in the community room. The second half the project will be to create individual pieces for a quilt that will be mounted onto the wall.

Residents show off their creativity

This art project is very pleasurable for the residents, and a way of building relationships and expressing their own feelings through art.

The residents are so excited about this project that on days that we do not meet they are working on beading thread on their own. As for days of the session, the residents arrive early and never want to leave as the session approaches the end.

Spencer Row residents creating art

The residents are anxious to see the final product.

Finishing the Curtain!

Posted by: jwstraz | August 14, 2011

Chelsea Farmers’ Market Kicks Off at City Hall

[Post written by Alfredo Alvarez]

Two weeks ago, Chelsea Farmers’ Market successfully opened and started off the 2011 season with a bang!  Our grand opening this year was on July 23, 2011 and an estimated 200 people showed up despite the overcast morning.  For the past few years, the market has been located in the park across the police station and had only one vendor, Farmer Dave; but this year they’ve expanded and have relocated to the City Hall Parking lot providing a more centralized location for the conveniance of customers.  In addition to that we’ve invited more market vendors, allowing Chelsea Farmers’ Market to thrive and flourish.

Vendors who will be at the market every Saturday are Silverbrook farms from Dartmouth MA, Grants Plants from Essex, MA and Chelsea’s own Community Garden Signature Breads from Chelsea, MA will be at the market selling bread as will Chelsea Fire Hot Sauce. You might also encounter in the upcoming weeks a fruit vendor, and a farmer specializing in East Asian vegetables!  We take pride in being able to provide Chelsea residents with the option of fresh locally grown food and we hope that you’ll attend our market which runs until October 15 every Saturday from 10:00AM to 1:00PM

Chelsea Farmers’ Market

City Hall Parking Lot

Every Saturday until October 15

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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Posted by: Jakadem | August 10, 2011

New Community Collaboration to Serve Resident Needs

 

Six community organizations have come together to develop CONNECT and break barriers of poverty against residents in efforts  to build  household economic security.

The partners that make up CONNECT are: Chelsea Neighborhood Developers, Bunker Hill Community College, Centro Latino, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, Career Source and Metro Credit Union.

Through partnering with those organizations and institutions in and around the Chelsea community, CONNECT will bundle and leverage resources to better serve residents.

CONNECT will further serve our residents by providing financial, educational and employment needs to sustain families and individuals in our community.

Some of the programs and services that will be offered include:

  • Financial Education
  • Benefits Access
  • College Planning and Financial Aid services
  • Banking services
  • Homeowner assistance and services
  • Small business planning and assistance
  • Matched saving programs and accounts
  • Financial coaching and Career Planning
  • English for speakers of other languages

Chelsea Neighborhood Developers and its CONNECT members are thrilled about the new collaboration, which will offer these services to further positively impact community lives and initiate meaningful, sustainable and long running support.

  On Thursday July 7 th, Governor Deval Patrick announced that Chelsea would receive $1 million out of a  total $28 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for Massachusetts. The governor visited Chelsea and toured the North Bellingham neighborhood where past improvements had been made possible using CDBG funds. The newly awarded funds will be used to rehabilitate 11 foreclosed housing units.

Governor Patrick announces new CDBG grants for Chelsea

   The CDBG grants are an important part of neighborhood revitalization. The grants help with improving infrastructure, supporting housing, promoting business development and new public service projects.

“These grants will allow communities to put people to work while moving forward on a multitude of improvement projects that will attract businesses to the Commonwealth,” said Governor Patrick.

Governor Patrick meets Chelsea residents while touring the North Bellingham hill area.

 

Apart from rehabilitating 11 foreclosed properties, Chelsea will invest the CDBG funds in new sidewalk construction, Centro Latino’s citizenship program and providing English as a Second Language (ESOL) services . Chelsea Neighborhood Developers and the community are grateful for the support which will help in improving the lives of residents and building strong local economies.

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Kids at CND’s Spencer Green property are one step closer to being professional bankers and accountants. In partnership with CND, TD Bank’s WOW instructors in Chelsea offered Spencer Green’s kids a series of four financial literacy courses covering topics from budgeting to credit. For the final course, TD instructors rewarded students with a gift bag including, among other great items, a voucher for $10.00 to open a savings account at their local TD branch.

This series was a test project for CND, only including students between ages 11 and 15. With the success of the program, CND and TD Bank Chelsea plan to offer a second series of courses at Spencer Green for students between ages 6 and 10. When that series is over, CND’s Resident Asset Development Team  will hold a course for parents on how to continue working with their children to teach them healthy financial habits in an effort to sustain lessons learned during the course series. 

A special thanks to TD Bank Chelsea, their Manager Jose Oliveira and Assistant Manager Ingrid Watson for conducting the course!

Massachusetts Housing and Investment Corporation(MHIC) presented CND with an excellence award for community development on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at the Boston Conservatory Theatre.  MHIC award recongized CND’s efforts and strides to provide affordable housing to residents in order to bolster neighborhood revitilaztion and self-sustaining communities.

MHIC, a private lender provides support from its network of  investors like community banks and other financial institutions to help effect community development. By offering investment opportunites, MHIC  provides avenues to capital which helps under-served parts of the state.

CND would like to offer its gratitude to its Board of Directors, MHIC, investors and partners, as well as, its dedicated staff who guide its efforts and exemplary work.

 

The Chelsea Record reported that Chelsea Neighborhood Developer’s (CND) free tax program served over 700 residents and generated $49,000 in earned income credit refunds to working families in the community.

Besides that, the community received $1.3million in total refunds which is expected to boost local economies in the area. CND would like to thank the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Boston EITC Coalition and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley for their continued support and assistance.

Posted by: Jakadem | May 25, 2011

CND supports financial coaching

Chelsea Neighborhood Developers (CND) was recently showcased in a Citi foundation video which highlights  the efforts CND is undertaking to promote financial responsbility through appropriate education and skill building to increase financial secuity and meet community needs.

In the video, Marissa Guananja, Director of Resident Asset Development (RAD) at CND  explains RAD’s programs and their impact on individual clients and  the Chelsea community.

CND would like to thank Citi foundation and NeighborWorks America for their continued support in community building and neighborhood revitilization.

Posted by: Jakadem | May 18, 2011

CND tax program benefits community

Chelsea Neighborhood Developers (CND) wrapped up its 2011 free tax preparation program on April 13 2011. CND runs the free tax preparation program as part of the Massachusetts Tax and Asset Building Consortium (MTAC) which helps low to middle income communities save on filing their tax returns.

            CND served residents from East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Medford, Malden, Somerville and Winthrop. Overall, CND helped 754 people file their 2011 tax returns and secured over $800,000 in refunds. Carol Rijo, Site Coordinator and Resident Asset Development (RAD) associate at CND believes the program is extremely important.

Daniel Fitzpatrick, right, CND VITA volunteer assists Adaliz Rodriguez, left with her intake sheet prior to completing her income tax return.

            She explained that the program was a wonderful service to the community.

“It allows people to save a significant amount on their tax preparation and guarantees clients receive the highest refund possible,” Rijo said.

The program was especially beneficial this year given the ongoing economic recession. According to Rijo, more clients were less willing to pay bigger tax companies and agencies for processing basic returns.

Many households in the Metro North area have experienced financial strain and families have seen their incomes sharply decrease while expenses increase.

Rodriguez was thrilled to learn that she would be receiving the earned income credit, child tax credit and the maximum refund possible

 

            Deborah McGarr, a client and resident from Revere mentioned that she was glad the free tax preparation was available. She echoed Rijo’s sentiments that it was a great way to help the community and others facing financial difficulty.

The free tax preparation program fits with CND’s focus to help increase family assets. CND believes that given the hardship many low income families face it becomes harder to save and invest in their future livelihood.

            Apart from filing individual tax returns, the program also offers residents an opportunity to purchase savings bonds, apply for taxpayer identification numbers and encourages long term savings.

Fitzpatrick, right explains to Rodriguez, left about her eligible tax credits.

            “This year for the first time we completed Individual Taxpayer Identification numbers for the immigrant community who wanted to file their taxes like all other residents,” Rijo said. She mentioned that it was uplifting to be able to help so many throughout the application process for free.

            The free tax preparation program allows them to save the fees and get the refunds they deserve; this savings signify an opportunity to invest limited resources in long term assets such as small businesses and education. The more programs like these become widespread in distressed neighborhoods the greater the likelihood of increased quality of life and economic investment.

            Rijo expressed her satisfaction with the program and hopes that more people become aware that the program exists. She emphasized that they offer quality service with certified volunteers whose main purpose is to help clients reach their savings goals through tax refunds.

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