What you need to know before you buy a home …

Have you thought about buying a home? Do you know what home equity is? Are you wondering what your credit score is? I have to confess that I know very little about the process of buying a home and have been intimidated by it because all that I heard from family members and friends was about how stressful it was!

Fortunately, when I was in Queens, NY last week, I was lucky enough to participate in workshop presented by Chhaya CDC called “The Road to Homeownership: Your Rights, Risks, and Rewards.” This very empowering and accessible workshop demystified what it means to buy a home and how you go about doing it. Right then and there, my questions were answered and the process was broken down for me. This workshop is a part of a series that covers various related topics such as whether homeownership is right for you, financial and credit basics, analyzing whether you can afford a mortgage, and how to avoid predatory lenders. These workshops are particularly timely, given the recent foreclosure crisis that has affected many Americans and has brought up questions about how exactly the homebuying process works in the U.S. If you’re in the New York City area and interested in attending one of these workshops, visit Chhaya CDC’s website or email them at info@chhayacdc.org.

Chhaya CDC is an organization based in Queens that addresses and advocates for the housing and community development needs of South Asian Americans in New York City. They provide individualized homeownership and financial counseling, work on tenants’ rights issues, and engage in community outreach on housing and community development issues. They also develop “know your rights” brochures for the community, including factsheet on how to avoid foreclosure rescue scams (available in English and Bangla).

South Asians in the 2008 elections

How have South Asians been getting involved in the 2008 elections? How have the ways that South Asians been involved in the civic and political process changed or evolved? What kind of voter turnout can we expect from the South Asian community on Election Day? What’s at stake for South Asians in this election?



Hear the answers to these questions and more in “South Asians in the 2008 elections,” SAALT’s pre-election webinar. We were joined by Vijay Prashad (Trinity College Professor of International Studies and the author of Karma of Brown Folk among other works), Karthick Ramakrishnan (one of the main collaborators in the National Asian American Survey), Seema Agnani (Executive Director of Chhaya CDC, a community development nonprofit based in Queens, New York), Ali Najmi (Co-founder of Desis Vote in New York) and Aparna Sharma and Tina Bhaga Yokota (Members of South Asian Progressive Action Collective in Chicago). The full video of the webinar is here<http://www.saalt.org/categories/South-Asians-in-the-2008-Elections-Online-Webinar-/>. Stay tuned for SAALT’s post-election webinar, during which guests will dissect the election results, report the findings of multilingual exit polling and look forward to the transition to the new Adminstration and Congress.

One “Be the Change” Volunteer’s Experience Registering Voters in NY

Read this post from Parth Savla, Be the Change Volunteer in New York City:

On Oct 4, I had the pleasure of participating in SAALT’s Be The Change event by volunteering with Chhaya CDC, located in Queens, NY on their Voter Registration drive.  It was a great a experience street canvassing – going up to South Asians and asking them to register to vote.  I was really surprised by how many people were compelled to vote for the first time in their lives.  In addition to spreading the word about the importance of voting, we were also educating people on the public advocacy work that Chhaya does – providing everything from legal services to grassroots community development.


Supporting the voter registration, I believe, impacted the community on a variety of levels.  It enabled those who want to make a difference but don’t know where to go, by providing them access to do so.  Deep down, everyone wants to make a difference and support each other, but are often stifled by a lack of knowledge in how to do so.  By being out there, it provided greater accessibility to folks while helping them realize that they have champions standing for them. 


Street canvassing, I recall fighting my reservations about going up to one passerby and saying:

“Uncle, have you registered to vote for this year’s election?”

 

“No, I have never voted.  Why would it matter?  I’m only one person” he replied in his broken accent.

“Do you have children, uncle?  Are they in school or looking for a good paying job or looking to get a loan for a house?”

        “Yes.” 

“Uncle, voting in this year’s election will enable you to vote for the policies that will not only affect their ability to do those things, but also to safeguard your retirement.  I can understand that you haven’t voted before, neither had my parents before this year,” I said empathetically.

“Oh, I didn’t know it made that much of a difference,” he said as he filled out the voter registration form.  Once he was done, he took a few more forms to take back to his family.

        “Thank you young man.”

By seeing you make a difference, they also get inspired to make a difference!  


I wanted to participate in “Be the Change” this year because of seeing the difference that SAALT had made in our collaborative efforts during our YJA (Young Jains of America – www.yja.org) Convention this past July 4th weekend, and being inspired by the public advocacy work they’ve done for the South Asian community.  For SAALT’s “Be the Change” efforts this year, they’ve been able to mobilize thousands of volunteers nationwide to support countless projects for the community.  That’s a pretty incredible feat!I was particularly inspired about their Voter Registration drive, because this the most important presidential election of our lifetime.  There are many things at stake from our economy – being able to get loans for college, to getting a good job when entering into the job market – to education, to retirement benefits for our parents.  Being a South Asian American, it was a great opportunity to speak to elders in our community about the importance of voting in this year’s election and enabling their voices to be heard.

I knew that being part this event would not only enable me to make a difference but also meet cool people who shared a similar goal to make a difference.  While one person can make a impact, many people who share a collective voice and vision can make an exponential impact!