This blog is to help you in preparing for an emergency. It also contains other information that you might find spiritually up-lifting. This is not an official website of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". This site is maintained by Barry McCann (barry@mail.com)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Greeks Line Up at Banks and Drain ATMs as Tsipras Calls Vote

Greece’s banks may need an injection of fresh emergency funds to operate Monday as people rushed to pull out money after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum that could decide his country’s fate in the euro.

Watching Greece Developments As Tsipras Calls July 5 Referendum On Bailout Demands
Customers queue to use an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a National Bank of Greece SA bank branch in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Saturday, June 27, 2015. 
Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg

Two senior Greek retail bank executives said as many as 500 of the country’s more than 7,000 ATMs had run out of cash as of Saturday morning, and that some lenders may not be able to open on Monday unless there was an emergency liquidity injection from the Bank of Greece. An official with Greece’s Capital Markets Commission, the markets’ regulator, also warned that the Athens Stock Exchange may be unable to operate on Monday without a cash injection into the banking system. A Greek central bank spokesman said it was making efforts to supply money.
The European Central Bank’s governing council was expected to hold a conference call on Sunday to review the banks’ liquidity condition, said a Greek official, who asked not to be named in line with policy. The Frankfurt-based central bank said in a twitter post that it’s closely monitoring developments and would review the situation “in due course.”

Watching Greece Developments As Tsipras Calls July 5 Referendum On Bailout Demands
A pensioner sits on a bench beside customers waiting to use an automated teller machine (ATM), outside a National Bank of Greece SA bank branch in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Saturday, June 27, 2015.
Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg

Some banks were placing limits in daily cash transactions. Yiota Kardogianni, a manager at a branch of Piraeus Bank SA, said cash withdrawals were limited at 3,000 euros ($3,350) daily and ATM withdrawals at 600 euros. Alpha Bank AE had set a daily limit of 5,000 euros for most of its branches since last week.
“I’m here to take my mother’s pension out before the machine runs out of cash,” said Erato Spyropoulou, who was standing in a line of about eight people at one of National Bank of Greece SA’s ATMs. “It’s very worrying what’s happening because people don’t know what they’re being asked to vote for. It’s the last nail in Greece’s coffin.”
Euro-area finance ministers rejected Greece’s request for a one-month extension of its aid program, which expires Tuesday, shutting down any last chance for a financial stopgap until the referendum is held.
After withdrawing more than 30 billion euros as the anti-austerity Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, took power, depositors are now reacting to the latest twist in the five-month standoff with European leaders and creditors. One banker said 110 million euros had been withdrawn from his institution as of 11:30 a.m. Athens time on Saturday.

Note Shortage

The European Central Bank has been reviewing liquidity conditions at Greek banks daily in the past week. Banking officials in Athens said they were expecting a shortage of euro notes by as early as Saturday evening. They asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Greek bank deposits by businesses and households fell to 129.9 billion euros in May from 133.7 billion euros the month before, according to data released by Bank of Greece on its website on Thursday.
The Bank of Greece is making every possible effort to supply the financial system with liquidity, a central bank official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the matter publicly. Officials from National Bank of Greece, Alpha, Piraeus and Eurobank Ergasias SA, the nation’s four biggest banks, all declined to comment.

Capital Controls

“Greek legislation allows either the Bank of Greece governor or the finance ministry to impose capital restrictions,” George Saravelos, foreign exchange strategist at Deutsche Bank AG, wrote in a note to clients. “The extent to which this materializes will depend on the ECB decision over the next 48 hours as well as depositor behavior.”
Some branches of Alpha Bank in central Athens that normally open for business on Saturdays remained shut and one carried a sign that it wouldn’t open. Only a few banks near central shopping and tourist areas are usually open on Saturdays.
About 100 people had lined up at a Piraeus Bank branch at a central Athens street before it opened. Some said they had waited for about three hours. Once word got out that the bank wouldn’t open, one elderly woman fainted.
As an ambulance pulled by to take her away, others spewed vitriol at everyone from the Greek prime minister to Germany.
“Tsipras said he would turn things around, but things are only going to get worse,” said Stavros, a 61-year-old retired sailor, who was lining up to withdraw his pension. He said he was initially planning to go to the bank on Monday but decided to line up on Saturday when he heard about the government’s referendum plans.
He said he won’t be able to pay his mortgage if the banking system doesn’t open on Monday.

This is good right? Swiss Government Becomes First Ever To Issue 10Y Debt At A Negative Yield

It had to happen sooner or later... in the new normal of yield-reaching, collateral-shortage-ing, money-printing economalypse, the Swiss government has become the first ever to issue a 10Y sovereign bond at a negative yield. As WSJ notes, while several European countries have sold government debt at negative yields up to five years of maturity - which means investors effectively pay for the privilege of buying it - no other country has previously stretched this out as long as 10 years. Mission Accomplished Central Bankers?

The Alpine country sold a total of 377.9 million Swiss francs (about $391 million) of bonds maturing in 2025 and 2049. On the 10-year slice, the yield was -0.055%, compared with 0.011% on its most recent similar bond two months ago.

In the post-issuance secondary market, Swiss bonds maturing up to 11 years in the future already trade with yields under 0%. But such low yields at the initial point of sale “illustrate well the world we live in,” said Jan von Gerich, chief strategist at Nordea, referring to collapsing yields on debt amid widespread stimulus from central banks around the world.

In January, Switzerland’s central bank scrapped its upper limit on the value of the franc and cut deposit rates to -0.75%. Swiss bonds are likely to remain attractive to investors as long as yields stand above that level.

“The combination of deflationary fears and aggressive central-bank action has caused investors to accept the reality of negative-yield bonds,” said Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer of U.S.-based Circle Squared Alternative Investments.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Shelter: Choosing a Bug-Out Location

In prepper parlance, the term “bug out” refers to fleeing the dangers that ensue after a natural disaster or some man-made cataclysm causes a collapse of the social order. Indeed, at the first sign of trouble, a lot of preppers anticipate rushing off to a house and land in some isolated rural area, where they’ll be able to grow their own food, generate their own power, and stay out of the way of the chaos and mayhem that the rest of society is succumbing to. 
But as the situation escalates, it may not be so easy to keep from avoid the danger. As grisly as it may be to think about the worst-case scenario, you have to be prepared for the possibility you’ll find yourself confronted by an onslaught of intruders who overwhelm your defenses—or that a sudden disaster such as a fire or flood will render your main retreat uninhabitable. If any of those bad things happen, you’ll be forced to flee a second time. That’s why it’s a smart move to have a back-up dwelling at another location where you can seek refuge. Such a spot also can serve as a rally point for survivors of an attack who need to regroup, tend to injuries, and re-arm themselves to retake their main homestead.
Here are some tips on setting up a second bug-out location.
  • Safe Distance: You want your fallback location to be far enough away that you’re out of the line of fire. It could be unoccupied land, or else property owned by another friendly prepper who’s willing to provide refuge. Practical Preppers consultant David Kobler suggests having it at least several miles away from your main dwelling. To get there quickly, you’ll also need to have some sort of bug-out transportation. A utility vehicle with ample space is great, but a motorcycle, ATV, folding bicycle, or an adult tricycle with a basket for cargo may make it easier to slip away.Bugoutvehicles.net is a website devoted to various types of escape transportation.
  • Providing Shelter:  A conventional trailer or camper van could serve as an emergency redoubt. Another option is a“tiny house” with just enough space for a bed. Some of these minimalistic dwellings are mounted on wheels, so they can be moved to another location if need be. It’s also possible to construct a temporary structure on the site, as this YouTube video illustrates.
  • Giving the Signal to Flee:  Having a bug-out location or rally point prepared won’t do your community any good, unless people get word that it’s time to flee, and know where they should go to. Kobler advises equipping community members with handheld radios that they can use to communicate. But since there’s a chance that attackers may intercept your radio transmissions, it’s crucial to have everyone memorize a pre-arranged code word that indicates that it’s time to flee to the other site. Modernsurvivalonline.com offers this guide to survival communications gear.
If You Only Do Three Things:
  • Have a means to escape.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a beat-up old mountain bike, as long as it gets you to safety
  • Have a place to go that’s far enough away to be safe. You need to get at least several miles from whatever trouble has erupted, so you safely can regroup and figure out what to do next.
  • Hide some supplies someplace.  Even if it’s just a metal canister or duffle bag with some preserved food, water, a flashlight, poncho and a survival knife, you’ll be glad to have it in an emergency.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M.

Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move toward your dreams. If you have a full-time job and kids, it’s even harder.
How do you move forward?
If you don’t purposefully carve time out every day to progress and improve—without question, your time will get lost in the vacuum of our increasingly crowded lives. Before you know it, you’ll be old and withered—wondering where all that time went.
As Harold Hill has said—“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
Rethinking Your Life and Getting Out of Survival Mode
This article is intended to challenge you to rethink your entire approach to life. The purpose is to help you simplify and get back to the fundamentals.
Sadly, most people’s lives are filled to the brim with the nonessential and trivial. They don’t have time to build toward anything meaningful.
They are in survival mode. Are you in survival mode?
Like Bilbo, most of us are like butter scraped over too much bread. Unfortunately, the bread is not even our own, but someone else’s. Very few have taken the time to take their lives into their own hands.
It was social and cultural to live our lives on other people’s terms just one generation ago. And many millennials are perpetuating this process simply because it’s the only worldview we’ve been taught.
However, there is a growing collective-consciousness that with a lot of work and intention—you can live every moment of your life on your own terms.
You are the designer of your destiny.
You are responsible.
You get to decide. You must decide—because if you don’t, someone else will. Indecision is a bad decision.
With this short morning routine, your life will quickly change.
It may seem like a long list. But in short, it’s really quite simple:
  • Wake up
  • Get in the zone
  • Get moving
  • Put the right food in your body
  • Get ready
  • Get inspired
  • Get perspective
  • Do something to move you forward
Let’s begin:
1. Get A Healthy 7+ Hours of Sleep
Let’s face it—Sleep is just as important as eating and drinking water. Despite this, millions of people do not sleep enough and experience insane problems as a result.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) conducted surveys revealing that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults, and 69 percent of children, experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.
In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month – with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more.
On the flipside, getting a healthy amount of sleep is linked to:
  • Increased memory
  • Longer life
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Decreased fat and increased muscle mass with exercise
  • Lower stress
  • Decreased dependence on stimulants like caffeine
  • Decreased risk of getting into accidents
  • Decreased risk of depression
  • And tons more… google it.
The rest of this blog post is worthless if you don’t make sleep a priority. Who cares if you wake up at 5 o’clock A.M. if you went to bed three hours earlier?
You won’t last long.
You may use stimulants to compensate, but that isn’t sustainable. In the long-run, you’re health will fall apart. The goal needs to be long-term sustainability.
2. Prayer and Meditation to Facilitate Clarity and Abundance
After waking from a healthy and restful sleep session, prayer and meditation are crucial for orienting yourself toward the positive. What you focus on expands.
Prayer and meditation facilitate intense gratitude for all that you have. Gratitude is having an abundance mindset. When you think abundantly, the world is your oyster. There is limitless opportunity and possibility for you.
People are magnets. When you’re grateful for what you have, you will attract more of the positive and good. Gratitude is contagious.
Gratitude may be the most important key to success. It has been called the mother of all virtues.
If you start every morning putting yourself in a space of gratitude and clarity, you will attract the best the world has to offer, and not get distracted.
3. Hard Physical Activity
Despite endless evidence of the need for exercise, only one-third of American men and women between the ages of 25 to 64 years engage in regular physical activity according to the Center for Disease Control’s National Health Interview Survey.
If you want to be among the healthy, happy, and productive people in the world, get in the habit of regular exercise. Many people go immediately to the gym to get their body moving. I have lately found that doing yard work in the wee hours of the morning generates an intense inflow of inspiration and clarity.
Whatever your preference, get your body moving.
Exercise has been found to decrease your chance of depression, anxiety, and stress. It is also related to higher success in your career.
If you don’t care about your body, every other aspect of your life will suffer. Humans are holistic beings.
4. Consume 30 Grams of Protein 
Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. Similarly, Tim Ferris, in his book, The 4-Hour Body, also recommends 30 grams of protein 30 minutes after waking up.
According to Tim, his father did this and lost 19 pounds in one month.
Protein-rich foods keep you full longer than other foods because they take longer to leave the stomach. Also, protein keeps blood-sugar levels steady, which prevents spikes in hunger.
Eating protein first decreases your white carbohydrate cravings. These are the types of carbs that get you fat. Think bagels, toast, and donuts.
Tim makes four recommendations for getting adequate protein in the morning:
  • Eat at least 40% of your breakfast calories as protein
  • Do it with two or three whole eggs (each egg has about 6g protein)
  • If you don’t like eggs, use something like turkey bacon, organic pork bacon or sausage, or cottage cheese
  • Or, you could always do a protein shake with water
5. Take A Cold Shower
Tony Robbins starts every morning by jumping into a 57-degree Fahrenheit swimming pool.
Why would he do such a thing?
Cold water immersion radically facilitates physical and mental wellness. When practiced regularly, it provides long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that improve the quality of your life. It can also increase weight-loss because it boosts your metabolism.
A 2007 research study found that taking cold showers routinely can help treat depression symptoms often more effectively than prescription medications. That’s because cold water triggers a wave of mood-boosting neurochemicals which make you feel happy.
There is of course, an initial fear of stepping into a cold shower. Without a doubt, if you’ve tried this before, you have found yourself standing outside the shower dreading the thought of going in.
You may have even talked yourself out of it and said, “Maybe tomorrow.” And turned the hot water handle before getting in.
Or, maybe you jumped in but quickly turned the hot water on?
What has helped me is thinking about it like a swimming pool. It’s a slow painful death to get into a cold pool slowly. You just need to jump in. After 20 seconds, you fine.
It’s the same way with taking a cold shower. You get in, you heart starts beating like crazy. Then, after like 20 seconds, you feel fine.
To me, it increases my willpower and boosts my creativity and inspiration. While standing with the cold water hitting my back, I practice slowing my breathing and calming down. After I’ve chilled out, I feel super happy and inspired. Lots of ideas start flowing and I become way motived to achieve my goals.
6. Listen to/Read Uplifting Content
Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. It is common for the world’s most successful people to read at least one book per week. They are constantly learning.
I can easily get through one audiobook per week by just listening during my commute to school and while walking on campus.
Taking even 15-30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information changes you. It puts you in the zone to perform at your highest.
Over a long enough period of time, you will have read hundreds of books. You’ll be knowledgeable on several topics. You’ll think and see the world differently. You’ll be able to make more connections between different topics.
7. Review Your Life Vision
Your goals should be written down—short term and long term. Taking just a few minutes to read your life vision puts your day into perspective.
If you read your long term goals every day you will think about them every day. If you think about them every day, and spend your days working toward them, they’ll manifest.
Achieving goals is a science. There’s no confusion or ambiguity to it. If you follow a simple pattern, you can accomplish all of your goals, no matter how big they are.
A fundamental aspect of that is writing them down and reviewing them every single day.
8. Do At Least One Thing Towards Long-Term Goals
Willpower is like a muscle that depletes when it is exercised. Similarly, our ability to make high quality decisions becomes fatigued over time. The more decisions you make, the lower quality they become—the weaker your willpower.
Consequently, you need to do the hard stuff first thing in the morning. The important stuff.
If you don’t, it simply will not get done. By the end of your day, you’ll be exhausted. You’ll be fried. There will be a million reasons to just start tomorrow. And you will start tomorrow—which is never.
So your mantra becomes: The worst comes first. Do that thing you’ve been needing to do. Then do it again tomorrow.
If you take just one step toward you big goals every day, you’ll realize those goals weren’t really far away.
After you’ve done this, no matter what you have for the rest of your day, you’ll have done the important stuff first. You’ll have put yourself in a place to succeed. You’ll have inched toward your dreams.
Because you’ll have done all these things, you’ll show up better in life. You’ll be better at your job. You’ll be better in your relationships. You’ll be happier. You’ll be more confident. You’ll be more bold and daring. You’ll have more clarity and vision.
Your life will shortly change.
You can’t have mornings like this consistently without waking up to all that is incongruent in your life. Those things you despise will meet their demise. They’ll disappear and never return.
You’ll quickly find you’re doing the work you’re passionate about.
Your relationships will be passionate, meaningful, deep, and fun!
You will have freedom and abundance.
The world, and the universe, will respond to you in beautiful ways.
- See more at: http://www.benjaminhardy.com/8-things-every-person-should-do-before-8-a-m/#sthash.uU0lUsdh.dpuf

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Are You Carrying The Right Survival Knife For You?

The knife is the most important survival tool and is an absolute necessity for survival and everyday carry, as you never know when it will be needed.
A good knife can be used for everyday projects, quick fixes to equipment or vehicles, defense, shelter building, fire starting, hunting, cleaning and preparing food, etc.
A quality knife or set of knives is the first tool and required for survival. There is a wide variety of types of knives out there from the ridiculous Rambo knife to the practical Swiss Army tool.
I personally recommend everyday carry of either a quality multi-tool like the Gerber or Leatherman multi-tool in its carrying case and worn on your belt or a solid folder with a carrying clip that is semi-concealable in any pants pocket. The choice is up to you and the situation you find yourself in. When I’m in dress clothes as required at times for work, I carry a folder that is thin, not bulky, and has a nice carrying clip due to its slimmer design. This multi-tool has a lighter weight than the multi-tool I use when I’m wearing more casual clothing.
The way I look at it, it is my first choice for everyday carry due to the wide variety of functions these tools provide. Blades for cutting purposes, the pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, can opener, and the serrated edges to cut limbs can all be used as needed. Many multi-tools have a clip or loop to give you the option of dummy cording the knife to your carrying case or belt with paracord or something similar so you don’t lose it while traveling cross-country or traversing heavy brush. The dummy cord has saved my knife more than once when thick brush opened the Velcro or button closure on the carrying case leaving the knife to fall. I personally own both Gerber and Leatherman multi-tools and rotate their use.
I also recommend keeping a solid, quality fixed blade knife handy in either your vehicle, home or workplace. The fixed blade is larger than the blades on the multi-tool or smaller folder you use for everyday carry and is used in more deliberate situations, like when you are in the field full time. Normally, the fixed blade comes with a carrying case or scabbard that you can mount to your belt, gear, or boot. I personally like to have it handy on my hip and within arm’s reach at all times. I recommend purchasing a fixed blade that has the option of carrying a fire starter such as the Bear Grylls fixed Ultimate Knife blade. This knife comes with many handy features, including the semi-rigid carrying case/scabbard that has a vertical belt loop and two horizontal loops for attachment to leg (if you prefer to do so) so the scabbard is not flapping around or getting caught on things. You can also use the loops to attach the scabbard to a rucksack/backpack or even use to attach with MOLLE clips to a vest.
The scabbard comes with a built in knife sharpener, a fire starter that detaches from the scabbard and a small rescue whistle. The knife itself is outstanding with a 10″ overall length of a single piece of steel. It has a 4 ½” blade, 2″ of which is serrated edge. The blade is a beefy 3/16″ thick at the spine, not some wimpy skinny knife. The spine of the knife has an area for striking the fire starter to start your fire. The knife handle is ½” thick and flat and comprised of a non-slip grip, so ergonomically it feels great and balanced in your hands and the practicality of non-slip is priceless when your hands are wet, sweaty, dirty or even when you are cleaning and preparing an animal and have hands covered in blood. The base of the knife flares out to a ¾” thickness and is designed to be used as a hammer to drive tent stakes, etc. I personally own this knife and enjoy it.
When selecting your knife know that you can get a solid, decent, dependable and quality knife for a relatively inexpensive price. There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a knife. I have purchased cheap knives to see how they work out or when I saw a good loking knife on sale, but most were not quality and did not last. The most important thing to consider is practicality. I have found that if you purchase an impractical knife that is too large, too heavy or not concealable, you will simply not carry it, and you will miss having the most essential survival tool when you need it most. One example from my personal experience is the Swiss Army Knife. I purchased one that had over 30 tools on it to include a toothpick and a tweezers and was over 1″ thick and pretty heavy. The knife did not come with a carrying case and was not practical to be carried in my pants pocket, so I never carried it. So I later purchased a smaller, pared-down model of the Swiss Army Knife and ended up carrying it much more often.
Think about the size and weight of the knife, practicality of carrying it, dependability and solid construction are a must. For semi-concealable folding knives think about the ease of opening the knife single handed as some folders have assisted opening features that lock open and have a slim profile and a carrying clip. I recommend you consider the color of the folder and the carrying clip as I like to carry mine concealed or semi-concealed where only the clip can be seen from the outside by other people, so I chose black as it does blend in with most of my earth-tone wardrobe. Some people choose to overtly carry the knife so others clearly know they have it as a deterrent, though I do not agree with that thinking. Remember if others can observe the knife they now know where your weapon is and can eliminate or counter that threat of even just take it from you. I carry my folder where it is not normally observed and therefore not easily taken from me.
On a final note, as a red-blooded patriotic American, I wish everything was made in the U.S. as it is the best quality in the world hands-down. However, doing this is not always practical so try to buy the best-quality knives you can. I know that Buck Knives is one of the prominent American companies that sell American-made knives. Though they do have some foreign-made products, they proudly report to make most of their products here in the U.S.

Monday, June 22, 2015

1 in 4 US renters must use half their pay for housing costs

 — More than one in four U.S. renters have to use at least half their family income to pay for housing and utilities.
That's the finding of an analysis of Census data by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps finance affordable housing. The number of such households has jumped 26 percent to 11.25 million since 2007.
Since the end of 2010, rental prices have surged at nearly twice the pace of average hourly wages, according to data from the real estate firm Zillow and the Labor Department.
"It means making really difficult trade-offs," said Angela Boyd, a vice president at Enterprise Community Partners. "There are daily financial dilemmas about making their rent or buying groceries."
The crisis reflects one of the shortcomings of the recovery from the Great Recession: Income has failed to match rent increases. At the same time, construction has failed to keep pace with demand from renters. The recession pushed more millennials, former homeowners who faced foreclosure and low-wage workers into rental housing.
A result is that 2.3 million more families face pressures that leave them perilously close to homelessness. It's a reality faced by Lisette Duarte, a 37-year-old living in a two-bedroom apartment with her family in northeast Los Angeles.
Duarte's husband lost his job as an electrician more than three years ago. With both their son and daughter on the autistic spectrum and in need of care, he chose to stay at home while she worked a job requiring a 90-minute commute each way. The lost income forced them out of a three-bedroom house and eventually into a hotel, where vouchers over the course of five months helped them save for a security deposit for an apartment.
About a year ago, the family moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the Highland Park neighborhood where Duarte had grown up. Two-bedrooms in that gentrifying community rent for an average of about $1,600 a month, according to the online service Apartment List. The expense, along with utilities, consumes half of Duarte's paycheck. The government defines housing costs in excess of 30 percent of income as burdensome.
The family relies on prepaid cellphones. They don't dine out or go on vacations. Whatever extra income they have often goes for health care.
More than 30 percent of renters in California, Florida, New Jersey and New York state devote at least half their incomes to housing and utilities, according to the analysis. Other than Alaska, South Dakota and Wyoming, at least 20 percent of renters in every state face similarly high costs relative to income.
The analysis was developed for a "Make Room" awareness campaign sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners. As part of the campaign, pop stars such as Carly Rae Jepsen of "Call Me Maybe" fame, who sang for the Duartes, are performing concerts in the homes of financially distressed tenants.
Enterprise Community Partners' analysis dovetails with findings from other organizations. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has estimated that 12 million renters and homeowners spend at least 50 percent of their income on housing.
And Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies found in a 2013 report that roughly 27 percent of renters were devoting half their incomes to rent. Those levels were "unimaginable just a decade ago," the report said.
Average hourly wages have risen just 2.1 percent in the past 12 months, according to the Labor Department, while rental prices have climbed 3.7 percent, Zillow said last week.
Many renters lack the income to pay the cost of maintaining and operating these buildings, said Barry Zigas, director of housing policy at the Consumer Federation of America and a trustee at the nonprofit Mercy Housing.
Mercy Housing has a portfolio of 12,000 units for low-income people and senior citizens. It costs an average of roughly $500 a month to manage each unit, Zigas said. A monthly rent of $500 would mean that anyone working full time for a minimum wage would devote more than a third of his or her income to housing.
Either the tenants must fork over a greater share of their pay each year or landlords may let buildings fall into disrepair.
"Low-income renters are getting caught in a total squeeze play, as are the owners of the properties," Zigas said.
The Great Recession caused waves of foreclosures and layoffs that pushed more Americans into renting. More than 36 percent of people now rent, compared with 31 percent before the recession began in late 2007. The increased demand has yet to be matched by construction and renovations.
In March, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reported a shortage of 7.1 million apartments for low-income renters. The shortages are most pronounced in Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, Colorado and Utah.
Construction firms are building apartment complexes at an annual pace of roughly 321,333 this year, according to the Commerce Department. The rising rental prices suggest that construction hasn't kept pace with demand, according to economists.
For renters such as Duarte, the plan is that her husband can eventually return to work as their children reach adulthood, easing some of their financial pressures.
"I hope that we never encounter homelessness again," she said.

Read more at http://www.wral.com/more-americans-spending-at-least-half-their-pay-on-housing/14616616/#84TtmtU7lP4rp7E4.99

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dropping Off the Grid: Advice from Experienced Homesteaders

Washington, DC, July 22, 2008 -- A Red Cross "ready to go" preparedness kit showing the bag and it's contents.  These kits are availble from the Red Cross and the contents can be customised.  Red Cross photograph
Washington, DC, July 22, 2008 — A Red Cross “ready to go” preparedness kit showing the bag and it’s contents. These kits are available from the Red Cross and the contents can be customized. Red Cross photograph
Thinking of dropping off the grid? If you’ve become more and more skeptical of the economy, the stability of the country, or you just want to become more self-reliant, there are ways to go about withdrawing yourself from society in a healthy way and reducing your dependence on others. Here’s how to avoid the mistakes others have made and become self-reliant in a year or less.
Focus Less On Appearance
There’s always a compromise when you choose to be self-reliant. One of those compromises is aesthetics. You can’t be as concerned about your appearance unless you pick up sewing and become a master tailor. But, for most people, you will end up having used clothes, and will have to adopt a policy of buying more functional or practical clothing that’s durable, and forgo fashion. Ditto for the home. High-maintenance places don’t work when you’re a prepper because they’re a lot to keep up, especially when you have other, more important things to worry about – like eating.
Get a Bug Out/In Bag
A bug out or bug in bag is basically an emergency kit. A bug out bag is for times when you might have to leave your home due to an emergency situation – a flood, fire, or maybe some serious weather or an evacuation or state of emergency.
The bug out bag should include some food rations, a way to filter non-potable water, a way to sterilize water for other uses, bandanas, a wool blanket, antibiotics, antiseptic, a flare gun, a Faraday-style flashlight, first aid kit, two ways to make fire (three, ideally), and some simple tools like a pick axe and collapsible shovel.
The bug-in bag is similar in concept, but it’s designed to help keep you safe when you have to barricade yourself in your house. It should contain everything a bug out bag contains, but more of everything with a focus on non-perishable food and water and a power generator of some kind.
Save Money and Commodities
Save some hard cash and put it somewhere safe in the house. Also, consider some “hard commodities” (i.e. gold, silver, platinum, palladium). While your aim is to self-sufficient, realize that, during an emergency situation, you may need cash for things and in a worst-case scenario, you might need something of intrinsic value, like silver or gold.
Get Rid Of Debt
Pay off as much of your debt as possible. Debt makes you dependent on a bank for survival. Not good. Pay down debt any way you can and start building up your savings.
Keep Expenses Low
Keep your ordinary and regular expenses to a minimum. That means ditching your expensive cell phone and getting a cheap TracFone, or something similar. It also means getting rid of cable T.V., and relying on Internet for any access to news. You could hypothetically get rid of Internet too if you wanted to, but then you’re limited to radio for news, which isn’t ideal in this day and age.
Get a Power Generator
Companies, like 4 Patriots sell solar generators that don’t require gasoline. This is a very good idea because gas generators aren’t portable and have limited functionality. Eliminate this handicap by using something that’s a little more portable and provides near infinite energy.
Start Farming and Saving Food
This is one of the most important things you can do to start becoming more self-sufficient: start a hobby farm. A few chickens is a great start. Plant a vegetable garden, and you’ll have eggs from the chickens, vegetables from the garden, and pretty much an endless food supply so you won’t starve.
If you get more serious about it, you can buy a cow and keep it out on pasture for milk and other dairy products. Or, get two cows, breed them, and have an unending source of meat. Expand your farm to include goats, lambs, and whatever else you might want to eat. Over time, you might like it enough to become an actual farmer, sell your surplus for profit and never want for anything ever again. Is it a harder life? You bet, but you won’t be relying on other people for necessities.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Seven Survival Skills Every Prepper Should Know

survivalIf you’re preparing for a catastrophic event in the future, then you will need to know several survival skills for the benefit of you and your family. A total collapse in society often occurs in areas of extreme disaster such as floods, war zones, earthquakes, and more. A prepper can take all the necessary precautions to learn how to stay safe and comfortable during one of these horrific events. Without these skills a prepper isn’t fully prepared anyway.
A variety of skills can help you survive when the time comes, but only a few can make the short list of the most important skills. Without these skills your chances of long term survival diminish greatly. When you begin to prepare for emergencies, you must consider these seven skills that will set you up for success. Other skills may be important, but they won’t enable you to survive on their own like these skills.
  1. Growing Food
People who grow gardens of food are at an advantage in disasters. When everyone else loots the stores for food in a chaotic mess, the people with gardens can simply walk outside, grab enough food for a week, and walk back inside. Growing your own food helps you keep track of what you eat as well. You won’t have to worry about bad food if you’re the one who grew it. Growing your own food will certainly help your case for survival when disaster hits as you’ll be able to rely off your own food storage instead of looking through the empty shelves of a panic-raided grocery store.
  1. Hunting
Maybe you won’t be able to grow a garden for a number of reasons. But you’ll still need to eat. You might be content to hunt small game, but you should also look for deer if you can in your area. Deer meat tastes good, and you can get a lot of food from an average doe. If you find a large buck, then that’s even better for you. You can store the extra meat somewhere cold and dry for later consumption.
  1. Home Defense
You should also get trained on how to defend your home from intruders. If there’s a big disaster, then you’ll definitely want to know how you should proceed with keeping the people out of your home. You might need to shoot and kill someone to defend your family. You already have the gun for hunting anyway. You can’t let someone harm people or steal the resources you’ve collected in your home. It’s up to you to defend your home and keep everything and everyone safe.
  1. Weapon Maintenance
That gun you have won’t do you any good for hunting or home defense if it doesn’t work. You would need to figure out why it doesn’t work and fix it as soon as you can. You should also invest in spare parts for the weapon so that you can fix any issues that come up. The gun has to stay in working order for you to survive in a chaotic situation and you need it to hunt the animals for food when you can’t find other sources of food to eat.
  1. Fishing
The local streams and lakes should provide plenty of fishing opportunities in an emergency survival situation. Make sure to stock your house or shelter with plenty of fishing rods, bait, and other accessories. Fishing can also relax you in the midst of the chaotic emergency lifestyle. Some quick research should reveal the local fish that are best for consumption and where they can be found. Fishing might be one of your best options for survival if a disaster occurs.
  1. First Aid
You or someone in your group will eventually need first aid in a disaster. You should learn how to stop bleeding, apply bandages, splint broken bones, perform CPR, and more. You can sometimes find free first aid courses at local hospitals or other health care facilities. You’ll be glad you spent the time to learn first aid when someone steps on something sharp and gets a deep puncture wound. You may not be able to make it to the hospital quickly, so you’ll need to care for that person as best you can.
  1. Foraging
Hunting and fishing may not always be the easiest ways of gathering food. You can always try berries, nuts, leaves, mushrooms and other plants, but you have to know how to identify the safest plants for human consumption. Foraging can help you acquire additional food sources if it’s raining and the deer hide. You might not always be able to find lots of fish. But the right plants are always available for food. You would just need to be careful to pick the right ones.