Upgrade Your Saturday Morning: 10 Weekend Breakfast Ideas Worth Trying At Home

Stay in your pajamas and pretend you’re a master chef with these weekend breakfast ideas!

After a long week, nothing is better than sleeping in a bit and enjoying a filling and delicious breakfast. So, plan to skip long brunch lines and treat yourself at home with these easy weekend breakfast ideas.

From mouthwatering omelets to make-ahead strattas and casseroles, here are 10 helpful ways to upgrade your weekend breakfast plans.

1. Pour a cuppa (or two)

Cup of tea.

Cup of tea.

Instead of rushing out the door on a Saturday or Sunday morning for a day jam-packed with activities, linger a little longer at home and treat yourself to a lowkey tea party.

Make a pot of your favorite tea, slice up your favorite fruit into a salad and nibble on a scone or two. If you’re feeling luxurious, whip up a bowl of heavy cream and add the homemade whipped cream into your teacup or mug.

Want to have tea like the Queen? Buy or make your own clotted cream and add a little into an English tea. According to tea expert Ashita Agrawal, “English breakfast tea is a favorite for its full-bodied, rich and very refreshing tasting notes. It pairs excellently with eggs, sweetbreads or salads.”

2. Swap scrambled eggs for a homemade omelet

Omelet.

Omelet. Scrambling eggs is easy, but it can get old very quickly if it’s your go-to weekend breakfast idea. Turn your kitchen into a fancy brunch spot and treat yourself to an omelet.

  1. Prep your eggs: Grab two or three eggs per omelet, crack them into a bowl and lightly beat them with a fork.
  2. Melt your butter: Heat a nonstick skillet on medium-low heat and add in some butter.
  3. Pour in your eggs: Once you add your eggs to the pan, let them sit for about 60 seconds. Take a spatula and start to gingerly lift the cooked eggs around the edges of your pan.
  4. Add your fillings: Without overstuffing your omelet, add the filling as your eggs start to set in your pan.
  5. Fold it: Use your spatula to fold your omelet in half. Let it sit a few more seconds and voila — you just made an omelet.

Need help deciding what should go into your homemade omelet? Take your pick!

Cheese fillings:

  • Asiago
  • Blue
  • Boursin
  • Cheddar
  • Chèvre
  • Comté
  • Cream cheese
  • Feta
  • Fontina
  • Goat cheese
  • Gouda
  • Gruyère
  • Manchego
  • Monterey Jack
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Pecorino
  • Pimiento cheese
  • Taleggio

Meat fillings:

  • Bacon
  • Pancetta
  • Chorizo
  • Country ham
  • Crab
  • Diced ham
  • Lobster
  • Sausage
  • Shredded chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Smoked salmon
  • Steak
  • Trout

Vegetable and herb fillings:

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Avocado
  • Basil
  • Bell peppers
  • Caramelized onions
  • Chile peppers (jalapenos or poblano)
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Hash browns
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes

And if you want to kick our omelet experience up a notch — consider topping your breakfast with the following:

  • Caviar (if you’re feeling luxurious)
  • Chili (from a can or homemade)
  • Everything but the Bagel seasoning (pick it up at Trader Joe’s)
  • Hot sauce
  • Kimchi
  • Mixed greens
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Pesto
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salsa

3. Make a yogurt bar

Yogurt bowl.

Yogurt bowl.

Not only is yogurt delicious, but it has loads of protein, calcium and potassium (as well as numerous vitamins and minerals). If you want an easy and healthy weekend breakfast idea, plan to create an at-home yogurt bar.

Simply grab your favorite kind of yogurt flavor and then consider all your options for toppings. You can add as many or as few toppings as you want — there are no rules here. Need help dressing up your yogurt? Go to town with some of these:

  • Almonds
  • Almond butter
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cacao nibs
  • Cereal
  • Chia seeds
  • Chocolate chips (dark or white)
  • Coconut
  • Cookie butter
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Flaxseed
  • Fruit jam
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola
  • Grapes
  • Hemp seeds
  • Honey
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches
  • Peanut butter
  • Pecans
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

4. Bust out your cookie cutter collection

Cookie cutters.

Cookie cutters.

Whether you have kids or you’re just a kid at heart, bring your cookie cutter collection into your weekend breakfast routine. Cookie cutters can help turn your morning eggs or pancakes into whatever shape you want.

Making eggs? Add a little bit of butter or oil to a pan and heat it. Place your cookie cutter into the pan and when the butter or oil is hot enough, drop your egg into the cutter. Your egg will form around the cookie cutter!

Opting for a sweeter Sunday morning brunch and making pancakes? Place your cookie cutter on your griddle or pan, the same way as the eggs, and pour your batter into the middle of the cutter.

5. Build a smoothie bowl

Smoothie bowl.

Smoothie bowl.

Since it’s the weekend and you’ve got more time to spare, one of the best weekend breakfast ideas is to pour your smoothie into a bowl (instead of a glass or to-go tumbler). Just make a thicker smoothie (adding frozen fruit will help do this) and pour it into a bowl before adding in your favorite toppings (check out the yogurt bar topping ideas).

Since it will take you longer to spoon your smoothie into your mouth (and chew your chosen toppings) than sucking it down with a straw, your morning smoothie will take a little longer to consume. Consider this your weekend moment of mindfulness!

6. Let your toaster sleep in

Toast.

Toast.When you think toast, think beyond your toaster. Since it’s the weekend and you have a little more time, move past spreading butter on a piece of bread and calling it a meal. Opt for making hearty toast that will keep you full for hours.

Simply heat a slice or two of your favorite bread in a skillet over medium heat. Don’t worry about putting butter or oil down — the bread will toast directly on the pan. Leave each side down for about 2 minutes.

Need inspiration beyond your plain avocado toast? Any of these weekend breakfast ideas will do:

  • Hummus — topped with mushrooms, garlic, crushed red pepper and sage
  • Smashed avocado, chickpeas and crushed red pepper
  • Shaved pears layered on top of whipped ricotta and honey
  • Peanut butter (or any type of nut butter you prefer) topped with bananas and honey — you can even add granola, nuts or the seeds of your choice!
  • Open-faced BLT — Egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato, add hot sauce for spice or avocado
  • Smashed avocado with pistachios and honey — add granola or seeds if you’re feeling extra crunchy!
  • White cheddar, avocado, strawberry and sea salt. If you’re feeling extra, drizzle a teaspoon of honey on top of your toast!
  • Smashed avocado, corn, cotija cheese and pickled red onions. Splash some hot sauce on this to kick up the flavor!
  • Watermelon radish on top of smashed avocado, topped with sesame seeds or Everything But The Bagel seasoning
  • Sliced apples on top of almond butter, add a drizzle of honey
  • Avocado drenched in cottage cheese and pesto with pine nuts to top it off

7. Turn weekend brunch into a cocktail hourBloody mary.Bloody mary.

Say cheers to the weekend with an adult beverage or two! Instead of paying top dollar for a breakfast cocktail, make your own at home. Try these brunch menu favs:

  • Bellini: A sweet effervescent drink with peach puree and prosecco.
  • Bloody Mary: Tomato juice and vodka are the base of the ever-popular Bloody Mary, but don’t forget the Worcestershire sauce, garlic, hot sauce, horseradish, lemon and lime juice, fresh herbs and a celery stick. Popular garnishes to include:
    • Asparagus
    • Bacon
    • Cheese cubes
    • Crab legs
    • Cucumbers
    • Jalapenos
    • Peppers
    • Pepperoncini
    • Pickles
    • Okra
    • Radishes
    • Shrimp
  • French 75: A spritely and refreshing cocktail made of gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar.
  • Irish Coffee: Upgrade your coffee with Irish whiskey, sugar and whipped cream.
  • Kir Royal: A red-hued cocktail, this drink features champagne and creme de cassis.
  • Mimosa: A classic — mix chilled juice (orange juice is the traditional go-to, but you can use any type of juice) and champagne.

8. Make your breakfast the night beforeStratta.Stratta.

One of the best weekend breakfast ideas is to simply make your breakfast the night before…or at least prep so the most you have to do is pop it into the oven and bake.

Making a breakfast dish ahead allows you to sleep in later and enjoy the fruits of your labor with little effort the next day. Here are some options:

  • Breakfast burritos
  • Breakfast polenta dishes
  • Egg casseroles
  • Egg muffins
  • French toast
  • Frittatas
  • Hash brown casseroles
  • Homemade muesli
  • Homemade nut bars
  • Latkes
  • Muffins
  • Overnight oats
  • Slow cooker oatmeal
  • Smoothie kits
  • Strattas

9. Pay attention to the details

Pancakes served in bed.

Pancakes served in bed.

“There are lots of simple and fun ways to elevate your home brunch,” says Liz McCray from Bloody Mary Obsessed. “Infuse vodka with jalapeños for a spicy addition to a Bloody Mary or use fresh or frozen fruit to make from scratch juices for your mimosas!”

Additionally, Liz says, “Small splurges like chocolate chips in your pancakes or using a fluffy and buttery brioche bread for French toast will up-level your home brunch game. Grab a bouquet of fresh flowers from the farmers market or Trader Joe’s as a centerpiece and you’ve got an elevated home brunch!”

10. Eat like a chef

Breakfast tacos.

Breakfast tacos.

According to California Bay Area chef Garrett Adair, “If you want to eat like a chef, there’s one thing to make — breakfast tacos.”

You heard the professional. Plan to make breakfast tacos this week — here’s what you’ll need:

  • Eggs: Fried or scrambled, however you prefer.
  • Beans: Refried beans are perfect for breakfast tacos, but black or pinto beans work well, too.
  • Cheese: Cheddar cheese or cotija will do the trick.
  • Avocado: Slice it, smash it or make some guacamole.
  • Salsa or hot sauce: Pick your favorite and splash it on.
  • Tortillas: Corn or flour

If you want a heavier breakfast taco, feel free to add your favorite meat. Chorizo, chicken and steak also make excellent breakfast taco toppings.

Bon appétit!

Whether you live for savory breakfast dishes or a sweeter morning snack, there are plenty of delicious and easy-at-home weekend breakfast ideas to try. So, next time you look for brunch reservations — just stay in your pajamas and treat yourself (if you’re feeling generous, your friends, too) instead!

Source: rent.com

5 Mortgage REITs for Yield-Hungry Investors

In the search for rich dividend yields, mortgage REITs (mREITs) are in a class all their own. 

These are companies are structured as real estate investment trusts (REITs), but they own interest-bearing assets like mortgages and mortgage-backed securities rather than physical real estate.

One of the biggest reasons to own mortgage REITs is their exceptional yields, currently averaging around 8% to 9%, according to Nareit – the leading global producer on REIT investment research – more than four times the yield available on the S&P 500. These outsized yields are enticing, but investors should approach these stocks with caution and hold them only as one part of a larger, more diversified portfolio. 

One reason for this is their sensitivity to changes in interest rates. When interest rates rise, mortgage REIT earnings generally decline. The Federal Reserve is signaling plans for multiple rate hikes in 2022 that could create headwinds for these stocks.   

And increasing interest rates hurt mREITs because these businesses borrow money to fund their operations. Their borrowing costs rise with interest rates, but the interest payments they collect from mortgages remain the same, causing profit margins to compress. Some of this risk can be managed with hedging tools, but mortgage REITs can’t eliminate interest-rate risk altogether.  

Another caveat is that mortgage REITs frequently cut dividends when times are tough. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 30 of this sector’s 40 companies either cut or suspended dividends. On the flip side, dividends were quickly restored in 2021, with 20 mREITs raising dividends.

We searched the mortgage REIT universe for stocks whose dividends appear safe this year.

Read on as we explore five of the best mREITs for 2022. A few of these REITs are reducing interest-rate risk via acquisitions or an unusual lending focus, while others have strong balance sheets or outstanding track records for raising dividends. And all of them offer exceptional yields for investors.

Data is as of Jan. 12. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent payout and dividing by the share price. Stocks are listed in order of lowest to highest dividend yield.

1 of 5

Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital

green investing conceptgreen investing concept
  • Market value: $4.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.9%

Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital (HASI, $48.56) is a bit of an oddball for a mortgage REIT in that it specializes in clean energy and infrastructure rather than pure real estate. Specifically, the real estate investment trust invests in wind, solar, storage, energy efficiency and environmental remediation projects – making it not only one of the best mREITs, but also one of the best green energy stocks to own.

Its loan portfolio encompasses 260 projects and is valued at $3.2 billion. In addition to its own loans, Hannon Armstrong manages roughly $8 billion of other assets, mainly for public sector clients.   

This mREIT boasts a $3 billion pipeline and is ideally positioned to capture some portion of the spending from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that was passed by Congress in late 2021.  

Over the last three years, Hannon Armstrong has generated 7% annual earnings per share (EPS) gains and 1% yearly dividend growth. Over the next three years, HASI is targeting accelerated gains of 7% to 10% yearly earnings per share growth and 3% to 5% in dividend hikes. Future earnings growth should be enhanced by the firm’s prudent 1.6 times debt-to-equity ratio.

Hannon Armstrong produced exceptional September-quarter results, showing 45% year-over-year loan portfolio growth and a 14% increase in distributable earnings per share. 

Analysts expect earnings of $1.83 per share this year and $1.91 per share next year – more than enough to cover the REIT’s $1.40 per share annual dividend.

HASI is well-liked by Wall Street analysts, with five of the six that are tracking the stock calling it a Buy or Strong Buy. 

2 of 5

Starwood Property Trust

little red house surrounded by little white houseslittle red house surrounded by little white houses
  • Market value: $7.7 billion
  • Dividend yield: 7.6%

Starwood Property Trust (STWD, $25.44) has a $21 billion loan portfolio, making it the largest mortgage REIT in the U.S. The company is affiliated with Starwood Capital Group, one of the world’s biggest private investment firms. 

STWD is considered a mortgage real estate investment trust, but it operates more like a hybrid by owning physical properties as well as mortgages and real estate securities. Its portfolio comprises 61% commercial loans, but the REIT also has sizable footholds in residential loans (11%), properties (12%) and infrastructure lending (9%), a relatively new focus for the company.

The mREIT benefits from access to the databases of Starwood Capital Group, which makes over $100 billion in real estate transactions annually and has a portfolio consisting of 96% floating-rate debt. This high percentage of floating-rate debt and unusually short loan durations – averaging just 3.3 years – minimizes Starwood’s risk from rising interest rates. 

STWD is also one of the nation’s largest servicers of commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) loans; sizable, reliable loan servicing fees help mitigate risk if loan credit quality deteriorates.

Starwood Property Trust closed $3.8 billion of new loans during the September quarter and generated distributable earnings of 52 cents per share – up sequentially from June and slightly above analysts’ consensus estimate. After the September quarter closed, the mREIT booked a huge $1.1 billion gain on the sale of a 20% stake in an affordable housing real estate portfolio.   

The company has made 12 consecutive years of quarterly dividend payments, and unlike many other mortgage REITs, held its ground in 2020 by maintaining an unchanged dividend.

Of the seven Wall Street pros following STWD, one says it’s a Strong Buy, five call it a Buy and just one says Hold. Adding fuel to the bullish fire, CNBC analyst Jon Najarian recently tapped Starwood as one of his top stocks to watch, given its impressive 7.6% dividend yield.

3 of 5

Arbor Realty Trust

mortgage-backed securities conceptmortgage-backed securities concept
  • Market value: $2.8 billion
  • Dividend yield: 7.7%

Arbor Realty Trust (ABR, $18.70) stands out as one of the best mREITS given its six straight quarters of dividend hikes and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 18% for dividend growth over the past five years. 

What’s more, Arbor Realty Trust has delivered 10 straight years of dividend growth while maintaining the industry’s lowest dividend payout rate.

This mortgage REIT is able to steadily grow dividends thanks to the diversity of its operating platform, which generates income from agency and non-agency loans, physical real estate (including rentals) and servicing fees.

Agency loan originations and the servicing portfolio have grown at a 16% CAGR over five years. And during the first nine months of 2021, Arbor Realty Trust set a new record with balance sheet loan originations, coming in at $7.2 billion – 2.5 times its previous record. Loan volume rose 45% over its previous record to total $13.2 billion over the nine-month period.

While September EPS declined year-over-year due to a reduced contribution from equity affiliates, earnings for the first nine months of the year were up 164% from the year prior to $1.56 per share.

Arbor Realty Trust earns Buy ratings from two of the three Wall Street analysts following the stock, and Zacks Research recently named ABR one of its top income picks for 2022. 

Valued at only 10 times forward earnings – which is 15.4% below industry peers – ABR shares appear bargain-priced at the moment.   

4 of 5

MFA Financial

person looking for business loan on laptopperson looking for business loan on laptop
  • Market value: $2.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 8.2%

MFA Financial (MFA, $4.68) just closed an impactful acquisition that reduces its exposure to interest-rate changes and accelerates loan growth. This REIT was already hedging its bets by investing in both agency and non-agency mortgage securities. 

Agency securities are guaranteed by the U.S. government and tend to be safer, lower-yielding and more sensitive to interest rates than non-agency securities. By combining these in one portfolio, MFA Financial generates nice returns while reducing the impact of changes in interest rates and prepayments on the portfolio. 

Through the July acquisition of Lima One, MFA Financial becomes a major player in business purpose lending (BPL), an attractive niche comprised of fix-and-flip, construction, multi-family and single-family rental loans. 

An aging U.S. housing stock is creating demand for real estate renovations and causing BPL to soar. BPL loans are good quality and high-yielding, but difficult to source in the marketplace. With the purchase of Lima One, MFA Financial gains a $1.1 billion BPL loan-servicing portfolio and an established national franchise for originating these types of loans. 

Lima One’s impact was apparent in MFA Financial’s September-quarter results. The REIT originated $2.0 billion of loans, the highest quarterly total on record, and grew its portfolio by $1.5 billion after runoff. 

Net interest income increased 15% on a sequential basis, and gains recorded on the Lima One purchase contributed 10 cents to the mREIT’s earnings of 28 cents per share. MFA Financial also took advantage of the strong housing market to sell 151 properties, booking a $7.3 million gain on the sale. MFA’s book value – the difference between the total value of a company’s assets and its outstanding liabilities – rose 4% sequentially to $4.82 per share, a modest 3% premium to its current share price.

Raymond James analyst Stephen Laws upgraded MFA to Outperform from Market Perform – the equivalents of Buy and Hold, respectively – in December. He thinks the Lima One acquisition will accelerate loan growth and reduce the mortgage REIT’s borrowing costs.

MFA Financial has a 22-year track record of paying dividends. While payments were reduced in 2020, the REIT recently signaled improving prospects with a 10% dividend hike in late 2021.

5 of 5

Broadmark Realty Capital

real estate contract with keys and penreal estate contract with keys and pen
  • Market value: $1.3 billion
  • Dividend yield: 8.6%

Broadmark Realty Capital (BRMK, $9.77) is unusual for its zero-debt balance sheet, robust loan origination volume and sizable monthly dividends. This mortgage REIT provides short to mid-term loans for commercial construction and real estate development that are less interest-rate sensitive. As such, BRMK is a solid play on America’s housing boom.  

Lending activities focus on states with favorable demographics and lending laws. Plus, 60% of its business comes from repeat customers, ensuring low loan acquisition costs.

Broadmark Realty Capital achieved record loan origination volume of $337 million during the September quarter, roughly twice prior-year levels and up 68% sequentially. The overall portfolio grew to $1.5 billion. Broadmark Realty Capital also originated its first loans in Nevada and Minnesota, with expansion into additional states planned during the December quarter. 

Despite rising revenues and distributable EPS, Broadmark Realty’s results came in slightly below analyst estimates and its share price declined in reaction. However, this price slip may present an opportunity to pick up one of the best mREITs at a discount. At present, BRMK shares trade at just 12.7 times forward earnings and 1.1 times book value – the latter of which is a 15% discount to industry peers.

The mortgage REIT cut its dividend in 2020, but continued to make monthly payments to shareholders. And in 2021, it raised its dividend 17% in early 2021. While dividend payout currently exceeds 100% of fiscal 2021 earnings, analysts are forecasting a 17% rise in fiscal 2022, which would comfortably cover the current 84 cents per share annual dividend.     

Source: kiplinger.com

The Best West Elm-Style Home Decor From Walmart – Us Weekly

Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.

Decorating a home can feel daunting, but nothing feels as rewarding as seeing a space come together. Once we complete a new room, we feel like we’re an expert on HGTV. But don’t worry, Chip and Joanna Gaines, we’re not at your level quite yet. Our biggest challenge is achieving an elevated aesthetic at an affordable price.

If you’re trying to furnish your place without breaking the bank, we’ve got you covered. We rounded up our favorite finds that give you the West Elm look on a Walmart budget. Think rustic yet classic — these polished pieces will serve as the focal points of your foundation.

This Kitchen Cart and TV Stand

rolling kitchen cart, TV stand
Walmart

This rolling kitchen cart is so versatile! Part island, part bar cart and part TV stand, this multi-purpose portable product features wood and metal construction, shelves and drawers for added storage and locking wheels. “Beautiful!” one shopper declared. “My favorite new piece of furniture.”

See It!

Get the Whalen Santa Fe Kitchen Cart with Metal Shelves and TV Stand Feature for $169 (originally $229) at Walmart!

This Tufted Push Back Recliner

tufted arm chair, recliner
Walmart

Sit back and relax in this push back recliner, available in beige and grey. With bronze nail-head trims and button-tufted details, this armchair looks straight out of West Elm! “They are beautiful and so comfortable,” one customer commented. “Surprised such an amazing product came from Walmart.”

See It!

Get the Better Homes and Garden Tufted Push Back Recliner for just $259 (originally $299) at Walmart!

This Media Fireplace

media fireplace, entertainment system
Walmart

For an all-in-one entertainment experience, check out this multi-functional media console — complete with a working fireplace! If you plan on spending all winter bundled up binging TV, then this is the storage system for you. “I am in love with this beautiful fireplace!” one shopper gushed. “It is going to be so useful during the holidays it makes everything look more festive and my living room has not ever been more cozy looking.”

See It!

Get the Whalen Barston Media Fireplace for TV’s up to 55 inches for just $224 (originally $259) at Walmart!

These Table Lamps

steel table lamps
Walmart

These stunning steel table lamps are lit, as the kids say. Topped with bright white drum shades, this set of two works perfectly on matching nightstands or end tables. According to one review, “These lamps are very attractive and will go with pretty much any decor. Also, they use 100 watt bulbs which are hard to find.”

See It!

Get the Regency Hill Modern Table Lamps Set of 2 Brushed Steel Metal White Drum Shade for Living Room, Family, Bedroom for just $60 (originally $70) at Walmart!

This Bathroom Organizer Shelf

bathroom organizer, shelf
Walmart

If you’re searching for more storage space in your bathroom, look no further. This organizer shelf fits the bill! Made of durable wood, this bathroom rack features open shelving and drawers for additional organization. One customer called it “stylish, sturdy and easy to build.”

See It!

Get the Costway Over The Toilet Space Saver Bathroom Organizer Storage Shelf w/ 2 Drawers White for just $110 (originally $160) at Walmart!

This Console Table

console table, hallway
Walmart

Get you a table that does both — acts as an entryway table or a sofa table. “I absolutely love it,” shared one shopper. “Very sturdy and when you put your items on it, it looks so homey. Highly recommended.” This sleek console table comes in four different shades of rich dark wood.

See It!

Get the Mainstays Parsons Console Table, Multiple Colors Available for just $55 (originally $69) at Walmart!

This Woven Throw Pillow

woven throw pillow, boho
Walmart

Spice up your space with some modern boho decor. This woven throw pillow is a must-have! One review reported, “These pillows are great quality and so affordable! Very pleased with this purchase. They are definitely more decorative than for actual lounging, but perfect for bedroom throw pillows.”

See It!

Get the Lr Home Zanthia Alabaster Stripe Beige, Natural 20″ x 20″ Indoor Square Hand – Crafted Throw Pillow for just $36 (originally $73) at Walmart!

This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful, such as face masks, self tanners, Lululemon-style leggings and all the best gifts for everyone in your life. Product and service selection, however, is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post.

The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. In addition, Us Weekly receives compensation from the manufacturer of the products we write about when you click on a link and then purchase the product featured in an article. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at [email protected] Happy shopping!

Source: usmagazine.com

How to Style a Gallery Wall

After moving into a new place, the biggest question you’re asking yourself is likely, “How am I going to decorate?”

A great use for all that blank, white space is a gallery wall. This is an easy way to feature your favorite framed artwork and personal photographs.

Follow our tips to style your own gallery wall:

1. Decide what to hang: Choose your medium (painting, drawing, photograph), size, and frame (including color, material, and shape). Don’t be afraid to mix and match! When adding variation, just make sure it’s balanced and doesn’t clash. If you have a collection of various frames but want to make everything uniform, consider painting them all the same color.

2. Plan the arrangement: Play around with the layout before you start putting nails into the wall. Decide if you’re going to group multiple pieces in a shape (diamonds, squares, and rectangles work well) or in a straight line. You might want to do a little sketch on paper (to scale). Then lay out your collage on the floor. Place each frame approximately one or two inches apart for cohesiveness. If you’re mixing sizes, start with the biggest piece and work around them with the smaller ones. Consider choosing one piece of art as the focal point and place it in the center.

3. Test your layout: Once you’re happy with the arrangement, cut out pieces of paper that fit each framed piece. Mock up your collage on the wall with paper and tape to help visualize the result. Make tweaks, and move the pieces around until the layout is just right.

4. Start hanging: This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Break out your hammer and nails. Place the frames over the paper, replacing each cut-out with the actual piece.

Once you’re done, take a few steps back to admire your work! One of the best things about a gallery wall is that you can swap personal photos and art if you find a new piece that you want to feature.

Source: century21.com

How to Get a Shower Curtain to Stop Sticking—Plus More Shower Curtain Hacks

How to keep a shower curtain from sticking

If you’ve ever had a shower curtain liner that kept sticking to you while you were trying to shower, you know it’s less funny, more annoying. Get rid of this problem forever with a spray bottle! Pour a tablespoon of liquid fabric softener into the empty bottle and fill the rest with water. Spray on the liner just before you shower and it will always stay in its proper place.

Stop mildew before it starts

Avoid leaving a shower curtain bunched up after use, especially in a small bathroom—the steam encourages mildew. Always pulled it closed after bathing, and if small spots of mildew do appear, dab with baking soda on a damp cloth. Wash larger areas in hot detergent, rub with lemon juice, and dry in the sun, if possible.

5 Shortcuts to Make Cleaning Your Bathroom Easy

Keep mildew off the bottom of your shower curtain

If you have a pair of pinking shears (scissors with a zigzagging edge used in sewing), put them to good use in the bathroom. Use them to cut the bottom of your shower curtain liner: The uneven hem allows water to more easily slide off, making bottom-of-the-curtain mildew a thing of the past.

How to get mildew off a shower curtain

Need to remove mildew from a plastic shower curtain? Try running it through the washing machine (on cold) with two large, white bath towels. Add a little bleach in with your usual detergent, and use 1 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle to prevent future mildew growth. Or, rub a wedge of lemon on the stains and leave the curtain out in the sun. By the time it dries, the stains will be gone.

Make a shower curtain liner last forever

Keep soap scum and mildew off your shower curtain on the regular with the help of hydrogen peroxide. Stick the curtain and a bath towel into your washing machine, pour in regular detergent, and start the wash. Add 1 cup peroxide during the rinse cycle. Do this once a month and you’ll pretty much never have to buy another shower curtain liner again.

It’s also said that soaking a shower curtain liner in saltwater before you use in can help repel mildew.

Keep shower curtain rings from squeaking

Do the rings on your shower curtain squeak as they run along the rod? The solution is simple: Just rub some petroleum jelly or car wax along the rod and they’ll slide right along it without making a noise.

18 Quick and Easy Shower Cleaning Hacks

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

How To Green Clean Like A Professional: 10 Expert Tips You Must Try

Words like sustainable, eco-friendly and green get thrown around a lot these days and you’ve probably heard the term green cleaning. Green cleaning simply means using products that are not only safe for you but also safe for the environment and don’t emit any pollutants when used.

To learn how to green clean like a professional, follow these 10 helpful tips that will not only change how you clean but will get your apartment looking spick and span in no time.

1. Become best friends with baking soda Baking soda in a jar. Baking soda in a jar.

Bicarbonate of soda, well known as baking soda, is a must-have for anyone looking to green clean their apartment. Great for neutralizing odors and deep cleaning, baking soda is extremely versatile as a cleaning aid. Here’s how to green clean like a professional with baking soda:

  • Carpets and rugs: Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets and let it sit for 15-20 minutes! The baking soda will fight odor and absorb any moisturize — revitalizing your carpet.
  • Garbage can: If your garbage can is giving off an unpleasant odor or you’re really going after a deep clean in your apartment, sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda into your trash can (before you put a new trash bag in it) or directly into the trash bag itself.
  • Mattresses: If a pet or a child has an accident in bed, baking soda is an easy remedy to help dry and deodorize your mattress. First, remove sheets from the bed and soak up any wetness on the mattress. Liberally add baking soda to the impacted area and let it sit for 90 minutes. Afterward, just vacuum up the baking soda!
  • Pots and pans: Get rid of unwanted burnt food and grime with baking soda! Just fill your problematic pot or pan with water and some baking soda and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Naturally remove mold

Sponge removing mold and grease.

Sponge removing mold and grease.

Kill mold the natural way (and avoid whipping out the chlorine bleach). Mix a little soap and water to scrub away any mold or grime. Need a little more help besides elbow grease? Make a no-fail solution with 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups of water. Tea tree is a natural fungicide and this particular solution will get rid of mold and any mildew!

3. Stains, be gone!

Cleaning up stains.

Cleaning up stains.

If you want to green clean your carpet or rugs, these easy hacks will help you remove blotches, dirt and residue. For a spill that just happened, splash soda water directly onto the spill and gingerly blot with a towel (opt for a real towel, instead of a paper towel).

Need to clean up a stain that has already set into the surface? Pour hydrogen peroxide on a clean cloth and press directly into the stain. Saturate the stain with the hydrogen peroxide and then let the spot sit for about 15 minutes. Blot with another clean cloth. Repeat as necessary!

4. Recycle and reuse old clothes and towels

Old linens being used as rags.

Old linens being used as rags.

If you’re looking to make an impact with your green cleaning, consider no longer using paper towels. Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste occurs in the U.S. and on average, Americans use around 13 billion (yes, billion) pounds of paper towels each year.

Go through old clothes — especially T-shirts — and cut them to your desired towel size. Instead of using paper towels, opt for these clothing scraps to help wipe up spills.

Not ready to give up paper towels completely? Swap to 100-percent-recycled paper towels instead!

5. Get zesty

Lemons being used as a household cleaner.

Lemons being used as a household cleaner.

Lemons are a key ingredient when learning how to green clean. Antibacterial and antiseptic, this zesty fruit works overtime. Here’s how to green clean like a pro with this citrus fruit.

  • Counters: Spray lemon juice onto your countertops for a natural disinfectant. The citric acid will help fight tough stains and lift any dirt and grime!
  • Cutting boards: To keep any wooden cutting board in tip-top shape, sprinkle salt on your board and use half of a cut lemon to scrub the salt and surface of the board. Voila! Good as new.
  • Dishwasher: Cut up lemon wedges or fill a dishwasher-safe container with a cup or two of lemon juice. Load your dishwasher as normal, but know the lemon will work overtime on your plates and glasses!
  • Drain: Cut up lemon wedges or lemon rinds and run them through your garbage disposal — this will deodorize your drain and get rid of any lingering scents!
  • Furniture: Mix two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice together to make your own DIY furniture polish! Apply this sparkling polish to wood tables and chairs.
  • Grout: Let the acidity from a lemon restore grout — just spray lemon juice on the affected area and let it seep in for 15 minutes!
  • Microwave: Bring a microwave-safe bowl of water and lemon juice to boil in your microwave. Let the steam from the citrus-infused water coat the microwave for a few minutes and then wipe down the walls and the plate of your microwave to remove any food residue or caked-on gunk!
  • Oven: Rid your oven of buildup by mixing together water and lemon juice in an oven-safe baking dish. Set your oven to 250 degrees for about 35 minutes and then let your oven cool. Take a sponge or cloth and wipe any remaining interior grime and food build up!
  • Pans: Remove grease easily with the help of lemon! Just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to soapy dishwater.
  • Refrigerator: Smell something off in your fridge? Cut a lemon in half and leave it in your fridge for about an hour! The lemon will absorb any icky smells.
  • Windows, mirrors and doors: Mix lemon juice and water together in a spray bottle and spray these areas of the house liberally for a streak-free sparkle!

6. Stock up on white distilled vinegar Vinegar in bottles for household cleaning.Vinegar in bottles for household cleaning.

Similar to lemons, vinegar is one of the most popular household items that can help you green clean. When we talk about using vinegar, white distilled vinegar is the vinegar of choice. If you’re hoping to learn how to green clean with vinegar, try these helpful tips:

  • Bathtub: Get rid of bathtub film by wiping the ring around your tub with vinegar and baking soda.
  • Blinds: Keep your window blinds in top shape by mixing a cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda with 3 cups of warm water. Soak your sponge or cloth in this mixture and then wipe the solution over your blinds.
  • Coffee maker: If you have an automatic coffee maker, get it squeaky clean and ready to brew a perfect cup of coffee by cleaning it with vinegar. Fill the water reservoir with vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse your coffee pot out thoroughly before your next use!
  • Laundry: Adding vinegar into your laundry can help remove stains (like deodorant), freshen up clothes and keep colors vibrant and strong.
  • Refrigerator: Wipe down the interior and exterior of your fridge with equal parts vinegar and water!
  • Shower: Wipe down your shower door and walls with a vinegar-soaked sponge to remove residue.
  • Stainless steel appliances: If you want to remove fingerprints or smudges on stainless steel appliances in your kitchen or home, simply apply a small amount of vinegar to the surface of the appliance and wipe it with a soft cloth.
  • Toilet: Add two to three cups of vinegar into your toilet bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes before flushing — this is an easy toilet deodorizer. Additionally, if you have stubborn stains, pour in the vinegar and use your toilet bowl scrubber to vigorously scrub away any scum.
  • Windows: Mix equal parts vinegar and warm water and then either spray your mix onto the window or pour some onto a soft cloth and rub away any film, streaks or dirt.

7. Boil a simmer pot

Woman making a simmer pot on the stove and stirring it.

Woman making a simmer pot on the stove and stirring it.

If you live for the smell of clean (you know, the scent that only really comes from cleaning products) — try a green alternative and create a simmer pot. Simmer pots, also known as stove top potpourri, naturally enhance your apartment’s aroma.

First off, simply bring a pot of water and your chosen simmer pot ingredients to a boil on your stove. Then reduce heat to a low simmer and enjoy the scented water wafting through your kitchen and home. Try some of these popular simmer pot ingredients as you learn how to green clean your apartment:

  • Apples
  • Bay leaves
  • Berries
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cloves
  • Cranberries
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ginger
  • Lemon slices or peels
  • Lime slices or peels
  • Mint leaves
  • Nutmeg
  • Orange slices or peels
  • Pine needles
  • Rosemary
  • Star anise
  • Vanilla

8. Leave artificial fragrances and dyes out of your laundry

Fresh laundry being carried away

Fresh laundry being carried away

“When it comes to cleaning your clothes, always opt for a home laundry detergent that doesn’t include artificial fragrances and dyes,” says Mike Bleier, owner of The Green Cleaner. “At my home, I really like Seventh Generation Free & Clear. For your dry cleaning and delicates, make sure you find a truly green dry cleaner that offers 100 percent wet-cleaning as an option — it’s the most environmentally sustainable choice out there.”

9. Praise and prune your plants

Woman wiping down a plant.

Woman wiping down a plant.

Since plants do an excellent job at naturally purifying the air in your apartment, it’s critical to keep them happy! To ensure your houseplants stay strong and useful for many moons to come — follow these easy steps as you learn how to green clean your houseplants.

  • Prune your flora: Cut away any dead stems or leaves
  • Dust regularly: Wipe down the leaves of your plants with a soft cloth and remove any debris or dirt
  • Carefully spray the leaves: Mix water with a drop or two of non-toxic eco-friendly dish soap and gently spray it on your plant leaves. This will easily eliminate grease and dirt build-up. Make sure to wipe the leaves dry so soap residue doesn’t form.

10. Toss toxins

Toxins being tossed out of a cleaning drawer.

Toxins being tossed out of a cleaning drawer.

With these new green cleaning hacks in mind, now is a perfect time to head to your cleaning cabinet to remove any products that are toxic, not biodegradable or dangerous to the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), products that include ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorous chemicals are hazardous to the environment, so plan to toss those, too.

Once you clear out your cleaning cabinet and you’re ready to stock it back up. Plan to purchase green cleaning products that are non-toxic, biodegradable and made from renewable resources (not petroleum).

Additionally, to ensure your new products fall into the green cleaning category, look for the following three things:

  • Green Seal: The original green cleaning certification (established in 1989)
  • Safer Choice: An EPA certification that ensures the product “contains only the safest possible ingredients”
  • Ecologo: A certification issued by Underwriters Laboratories, which is a leader in developing safety standards

Lastly, check out the Environmental Working Group. This nonprofit offers a comprehensive guide to healthy and green cleaning with over 2,000 featured products.

Learning how to green clean is worth it

While turning away from traditional cleaners like bleach and antibacterial sprays may seem difficult at first, once you learn the fundamentals of green cleaning — it’s easy to tackle household chores and cleaning responsibilities in a sustainable, more natural way.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

The Fair Housing Act: Anti-Discrimination Laws for Renters and Buyers

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In June 2020, Florida homeowners Abena and Alex Horton decided to take advantage of low interest rates due to the pandemic and refinance their mortgage. So their lender sent a professional appraiser to their home in a predominantly white area of Jacksonville.

Homes in the Hortons’ well-to-do neighborhood typically sell for $350,000 to $550,000. They expected theirs to appraise for about $450,000, a comfortable midpoint. But that’s not what happened. And it all came down to race.

Why We Need Fair Housing Laws 

In the Hortons’ case, the appraiser pegged the value at just $330,000, well under the going market price for comparable homes nearby.

To its credit, the lender agreed the appraisal was too low and ordered another. It came in at $465,000, in line with the homeowners’ expectations.

The Hortons didn’t undertake any last-minute home improvement projects or even take steps to improve the home’s curb appeal in the interim. They made only one change: removing any evidence that a Black person lived in the house. 

Before the appraiser arrived, Abena Horton, who’s Black, took her son shopping. She replaced mantel photos of herself and her son with images of Alex Horton, who’s white, and his white family members. She removed holiday cards from Black families. She even took books by prominent Black authors like Toni Morrison off the shelves.

The ordeal was humiliating but not surprising.

“I [knew] what the issue was,” Abena Horton told The New York Times. “And I knew what we needed to do to fix it, because in the Black community, it’s just common knowledge that you take your pictures down when you’re selling the house. But I didn’t think I had to worry about that with an appraisal.”

The Hortons’ low appraisal was neither a fluke nor the work of a rogue, racist appraiser. The family’s experience plays out in countless households of color across America more than a half-century after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act. 

That law’s goal was to protect minority homeowners from discrimination. It was a vital component of a larger package of legislation — the Civil Rights Act of 1968 — meant to build upon the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

The Fair Housing Act explicitly prohibits certain types of discrimination in the sale and rental of housing and mortgage lending against members of certain protected classes.

Subsequent legislation and court decisions have strengthened and expanded the act in meaningful ways.

Unfortunately, the Hortons’ experience shows that the Fair Housing Act did not usher in a world free from housing discrimination. 

Indeed, the National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2019 Fair Housing Trends Report recorded more than 31,000 housing discrimination complaints in 2018, an 8% increase from 2017 and the highest figure since the National Fair Housing Alliance began tracking housing complaints in 1995.

About three-quarters of these complaints were filed with nonprofit housing organizations compared with just under 6% filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Many involve more egregious infractions than the Hortons’ lowball appraisal.

Some would-be homeowners or tenants dealt with outright denial of rental housing. Others experienced discriminatory mortgage lending practices that increased foreclosure risk and cost affected borrowers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.

It’s true that not all Americans experience housing discrimination. But all Americans participate in the country’s housing market, even the housing-insecure. And any unequal treatment distorts that market, no matter how localized. That makes discrimination a collective problem, even when it doesn’t directly affect us as individuals.


Key Fair Housing Act Protections for Renters & Buyers

The Fair Housing Act protects most homebuyers, mortgage applicants, and renters from discrimination based membership in a protected class, including race and sex. The act prevents property owners, sellers, selling agents, and housing lenders from taking specific actions defined as discriminatory against members of its protected classes.

Certain identities not explicitly mentioned in the act, notably gender identity and sexual orientation, can be covered by explicit protections of the act, such as sex and disability status (which covers chronic health conditions like AIDS and the virus that causes it). Coverage for these identities is subject to judicial interpretation per the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County.

Likewise, many states have enacted laws that expand and complement provisions of the federal law. However, the Fair Housing Act does have important exemptions that limit its applicability in certain situations, such as owner-occupied or unmarketed small-scale rental housing.


Protected Classes Defined by the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act’s protections extend to members of the protected classes or identities outlined in the law. These protections cover both explicit and indirect or implicit discrimination.

Race or Color

This protection applies to official Census-recognized racial categories: 

  • White American
  • Asian American
  • Black or African American
  • Native American and Alaska Native
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race
  • People of two or more races 

It also applies to informal racial or ethnic categories and perceived categories, such as assumptions based on a person’s dialect or accent. An offender need not definitively know the race of a buyer or renter to discriminate against them based on it.

Religion

The Fair Housing Act requires equal treatment of members of all religious groups, including nonbelievers. For example, in most cases, an apartment community or municipality can’t advertise itself using religious labels like “Christian” or “Jewish.”

National Origin

The Fair Housing Act prohibits activities that favor or disfavor buyers, renters, or borrowers based on national origin. For example, while it’s not illegal under federal law for property owners and other housing providers to ask applicants for proof of United States citizenship or legal residency, it is unlawful to do so only for certain applicants.

Familial Status

This protection prohibits discrimination based on family organization, marital status, and age in most cases. For example, a property owner who prefers not to rent to college students can’t simply deny housing to all applicants under age 23. 

Though the Fair Housing Act does not explicitly protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination, the familial status class does include same-sex couples.

Sex

Any unequal treatment based on sex is prohibited under the Fair Housing Act. That includes restrictive policies enacted in the name of safety, such as refusing to rent first-floor walkout apartments to single women. It also covers any form of sexual harassment or coercion during the rental or sale process.

Disability

This protection covers individuals with significant documented disabilities, whether physical or cognitive. That includes those with chronic addiction disorders, such as alcoholism or substance abuse disorder, provided they’re engaged in treatment or recovery programs. 

Those engaged in the sale or rental of housing can’t ask about perceived disabilities or deny housing to those with disabilities. That’s true even when the offender’s intentions are pure, such as preemptively asking a person in a wheelchair if they require a first-floor apartment. 

Also, in rental housing, disabled tenants must be permitted to make reasonable improvements at their expense, and public areas and entryways must be accessible.


Explicit Prohibitions of the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act explicitly prohibits dozens of specific actions taken against members of any protected class by property owners, sellers, real estate agents and brokers, mortgage lenders, leasing agents, public officials, civil service, and insurance professionals. 

Some of these prohibitions pertain specifically to the sale or rental of housing, while others apply in the narrower mortgage lending context.

Actions Prohibited in the Sale or Rental of Housing

These actions include egregious violations, such as posting a sign restricting applications to a particular race, gender, or sexual orientation. But they also include more subtle offenses, such as steering nonwhite buyers away from predominantly white neighborhoods.

Some actions, such as eviction, may be legal when the intent or result is not discriminatory. For example, if local regulations allow, a property owner is within their rights to evict a tenant who’s seriously behind on rent as long as they treat all such tenants equally regardless of protected status.

Prohibited actions are:

  • Outright refusal to rent or sell housing
  • Refusing to negotiate the sale or rental of housing
  • Refusing to confirm housing is available for sale or rent
  • Discouraging the sale or rental of housing
  • Segregating housing (for example, grouping tenants of the same ethnic or racial group on a specific floor or building or in a specific neighborhood)
  • Extending favorable terms or unique incentives (for instance, charging opposite-sex couples lower rent than same-sex couples)
  • Making mention of any prohibited preference (for example, “families preferred”) in housing advertisements
  • Using different applications, screening or qualification criteria, or qualification processes (such as running credit checks for nonwhite applicants only)
  • Harassing applicants, tenants, or occupants or conditioning approval of a housing application on the applicant’s response to harassment
  • Evicting tenants or guests
  • Delaying or declining to make necessary repairs or maintenance
  • Offering property insurance on unequal terms (for example, asking higher premiums from members of certain protected classes, though underwriters may use indirect methods like credit scoring to account for higher perceived risk from certain occupants)
  • Profiting or attempting to profit by persuading homeowners to sell because members of a particular protected class are moving nearby
  • Denying real estate agents or brokers access to local agent organizations or multiple listing services

Actions Prohibited in Mortgage Lending

These actions also include a mix of egregious and subtle violations. However, all involve lenders’ or loan servicing companies’ refusal to treat mortgage applicants or borrowers equally based on their identities.

  • Refusing to provide information about loan opportunities
  • Refusing to originate mortgage loans to otherwise qualified applicants
  • Refusing to provide other financial assistance to otherwise qualified applicants
  • Offering unequal terms or conditions — such as higher rates, fees, or points — on mortgage loans
  • Discriminating during the appraisal process
  • A secondary lender or loan servicing company refusing to purchase a home loan
  • Conditioning issuance of a loan on the applicant’s response to harassment or coercion

HUD’s fair lending guide details mortgage applicants’ fair housing rights and mortgage lenders’ obligations under the law.

These actions are prohibited in all housing-related contexts:

  • Threatening, intimidating, or otherwise interfering with anyone attempting to exercise their rights under the Fair Housing Act or assist others in doing so
  • Retaliating against anyone who has filed a fair housing complaint or assisted with a fair housing investigation

State & Federal Housing Protections for LGBTQ Individuals

The Fair Housing Act does not explicitly forbid housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexuality, or gender identity. However, HUD requires lenders insured by the Federal Housing Administration (a HUD agency) to observe its Equal Access Rule. That rule prohibits certain acts of lending discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Additionally, the Fair Housing Act effectively forbids discrimination against LGBTQ individuals or families in circumstances covered by other class protections. And many state laws explicitly prohibit housing discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

Common Examples of Anti-LQBTQ Housing Discrimination Covered by the Fair Housing Act

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation-funded TexasLawHelp.org highlights common examples of circumstances in which explicit Fair Housing Act protections extend to LGBTQ individuals:

  • Sex Discrimination. A rental housing operator asks a transgender woman not to dress in women’s clothing in her building’s common areas; a property manager refuses to rent to a gender-nonconforming applicant.
  • Disability Discrimination. A property owner evicts a gay man whose HIV or AIDS status qualifies as a disability under the Fair Housing Act.
  • Equal Access Rule. A mortgage lender denies a loan to two same-gender co-applicants presumed to be a couple.

State Laws Protecting LGBTQ Individuals From Housing Discrimination

HUD maintains a list of states with laws prohibiting housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or both. Jurisdictions that forbid housing discrimination on both grounds include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Washington state

New Hampshire and Wisconsin prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity or expression.


Noteworthy Fair Housing Act Exemptions

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing types and the vast majority of housing units available for sale or rent in the U.S. However, it does have important exemptions and carve-outs for certain housing types:

  • Small-Scale Rental Housing. Owner-occupied rental properties with four or fewer units (such as duplexes and quadplexes) and single-family rental housing that is not marketed or rented with help from a real estate broker. In the latter case, the exemption does not apply when the property’s owner owns more than three qualifying properties.
  • Housing Operated by Exempt Organizations. This category includes housing operated by legally recognized religious organizations or private clubs that limit eligibility to their own members.
  • Senior Housing. Multifamily communities that meet one of two criteria may legally deny housing to younger applicants: a) every resident is 62 or older or b) at least 80% of occupied units have at least one resident age 55 or older.

Why the Fair Housing Act Matters Today

It’s clear from the massive (and growing) volume of fair housing complaints tabulated by the National Fair Housing Alliance that the Fair Housing Act remains necessary and relevant to modern renters and homebuyers. And many acts of housing discrimination go unreported.

Though egregious examples of overt housing discrimination still occur, modern examples tend to be subtle, even covert. Modern housing discrimination often occurs without victims’ knowledge and sometimes without agency or intent on the perpetrator’s part. 

The Hortons’ first appraiser might not have acted on conscious animosity toward people of color or an explicit directive from their employer. They might well have acted on unconscious bias — an internalized, unquestioned notion that Black-owned homes are less desirable than white-owned homes.

Even if you believe you’ve never experienced housing discrimination and aren’t at risk from it in the future, you need to understand what housing discrimination looks like in practice. You also need to know how to recognize the financial, economic, and social consequences it can wreak. 

These consequences can and do affect all Americans’ personal finances and overall well-being. The effects can be direct financial issues for victims of discrimination or indirect harm to local economies and a fraying social fabric. 

For example, the subprime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s was fueled partly by discriminatory lending practices that resulted in higher default rates by borrowers of color. It resulted in millions of job losses, including those of many Americans who didn’t apply for a mortgage before or during the crisis.


Real-World Examples of Housing Discrimination

Theoretical examples from HUD and nonprofit fair housing organizations like the National Fair Housing Alliance provide a basis for public understanding of the various forms of housing discrimination.

Sadly, these theoretical examples have far too many real-world analogs. Many happened (or continued) during the 2010s. Another was a widespread historic ill that profoundly influenced America’s urban geography.

Disability-Based Discrimination in Dozens of Multifamily Housing Communities

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a civil settlement with multistate apartment community operator Miller-Valentine Operations Inc. and Affiliates. According to the DOJ, the company stood accused of violating disability protections enshrined in the Fair Housing Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the DOJ required the operator to “take extensive corrective actions” to improve accessibility at more than 80 properties in more than a dozen states and establish a $400,000 fund to compensate disabled individuals affected by its violations.

Illegal Lending in Sacramento & Philadelphia

Banking giant Wells Fargo has been accused of discriminatory lending practices by federal, state, and local authorities since at least the 2000s. 

The bank agreed to pay more than $230 million in 2012 to settle a DOJ civil action alleging a “pattern and practice” of lending discrimination against Black and Latino borrowers from 2004 to 2009. 

In 2017, the city of Philadelphia sued Wells Fargo over similar claims. The bank settled for $10 million in 2019, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. A similar lawsuit filed by the city of Sacramento, California, in 2018 (per CNN) remains pending.

Racially Discriminatory Housing Ordinance & Enforcement

In 2019, the DOJ sued the city of Hesperia, California, and the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department alleging that a city ordinance and its enforcement constituted discrimination against Black and Latino renters, according to U.S. News. 

A HUD investigation found that enforcement of the ordinance resulted in more than 140 evictions over alleged criminal conduct in 2016. In some cases, entire families were evicted over allegations leveled at a single tenant or guest. 

Enforcement disproportionately targeted minority neighborhoods, with Black tenants four times more likely to face eviction than white tenants.

Refusal to Rent to a Same-Sex Couple

In 2017, a federal court ruled that the denial of rental housing to a same-sex Boulder, Colorado, couple constituted prohibited discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and applicable state law. According to Lambda Legal, the property owner refused to rent to the couple over concerns that doing so would harm her standing in the community.

Racially Restrictive Covenants

Restrictive covenants are clauses in housing deeds that restrict future homeowners’ activities and are not in and of themselves illegal. 

However, one particular type of restrictive covenant has long been rendered unenforceable by state and federal law: racially restrictive covenants that forbade homeowners from selling to buyers of certain races or nationalities — often simply anyone who was not white. 

Racially restrictive covenants were common in the first half of the 20th century in cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, and the Kansas City metropolitan area. Where widespread, they contributed to profound housing segregation. They were often used in conjunction with redlining, a common lending practice that diverted nonwhite borrowers into specific neighborhoods. 

These practices helped create majority-minority neighborhoods that subsequently experienced ills including disinvestment, neglect, and civil unrest.


Potential Consequences of Housing Discrimination

Real-world housing discrimination has real-world consequences for homeowners, renters, and their communities. 

Some are direct, such as harmful effects on victims’ long-term wealth-building capacity. Others, while indirect, can be more devastating at scale. Generations on, many cities continue to grapple with the far-reaching consequences of early- to mid-20th century redlining and restrictive covenants.

But all are incredibly harmful, both to the individuals who experience them and others. 

Greater Exposure to Environmental Health Risks

High-profile calamities like the lead drinking-water crises in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey, underscore the disproportionate environmental health risks low-income communities face. These risks are particularly prevalent in low-income communities of color, like Flint and Newark. 

That isn’t merely a media narrative. A 2018 Environmental Protection Agency study found that people of color are more likely to live near sources of air pollution and breathe polluted air, often due to historical settlement patterns influenced by redlining and restrictive covenants. 

And a 2016 study published in the journal Environment International found that long-term exposure to particulate matter correlates directly with housing segregation. That is, residents of highly segregated areas inhale more particulate matter than those in less segregated areas.

Lead Exposure in Older Housing Stock

Affordable housing tends to be older. Subsidized housing available through programs like the Section 8 voucher scheme does as well. 

Unfortunately, many older homes still contain lead paint or water service lines. Lead exposure can cause a host of serious health and developmental problems in both children and adults. (Lead water service lines are typically benign but can cause problems when drinking water is not properly treated, as occurred in Flint). 

Inadequate Nutrition

The market opportunity is greater in moderate- to high-income areas. As such, full-service grocery stores with well-stocked produce sections tend to favor these places over low-income neighborhoods. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food access atlas shows regions that qualify as “food deserts” with limited nutritional resources. These places often occur in low-income urban neighborhoods and small rural towns served primarily by corner stores and dollar stores with little if any fresh produce.

Higher Incidences of Gun Violence & Other Serious Crime

According to a 2019 study published in PLOS Medicine, gun violence incidence closely correlates with higher rates of poverty and income inequality, low rates of social mobility, and low levels of trust in public institutions.

The legacy of residential segregation exacerbates these ills. For example, a 2018 mapping project by The Trace found that two low-income neighborhoods in highly segregated Cincinnati accounted for a disproportionate share of that city’s shootings.

Unequal Access to Quality Schools

NPR reports that a 2016 study by EdBuild found a $23 billion funding gap between predominantly white and predominantly nonwhite school districts. The gap is caused in part by two government-imposed phenomena. 

Districts rely heavily on local taxes, which generate more revenue in wealthier, predominantly white districts. Then there’s the principle of “local control,” which limits the equitable distribution of state education funds to poorer districts. 

This gap contributes to unequal educational outcomes, reinforcing the very racial wealth disparities responsible for it.

Impact of Discriminatory Lending on the Broader Economy

A 2010 study published in the American Sociological Review cited a “highly racialized process” of “differentially market[ing] risky subprime loans” to borrowers of color as a cause of the late-2000s subprime mortgage crisis that precipitated the Great Recession. 

It’s a stark example of the potential for discriminatory lending to impact the broader economy negatively. 

On a more granular level, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council data cited by the Center for American Progress found that home prices in predominantly Black neighborhoods decreased by 6% between 2006 and 2017. During the same period, home prices in majority-white neighborhoods increased by 3%. 

This divergence disadvantages all homeowners in affected neighborhoods, not just members of the area’s ethnic or racial minority.

Increasing Racial & Cultural Tension

In a 2019 Pew study conducted before widespread protests over police violence in 2020, 58% of all Americans and 71% of Black Americans said race relations were bad in the U.S. 

Meanwhile, 65% of all Americans said it had “become more common for people to express racist or racially insensitive views” since Donald Trump was elected president. And 45% said it had “become more acceptable” to do so. 

While it might give comfort to characterize this as an aberration attributable solely to a particular political leader or party, that’s not the entire story. These alarming figures spotlight a fraying of the American social fabric caused in part by decades of residential segregation.

Despite incremental integration since 2000, a Washington Post visualization shows that most Americans continue to live in “majority” neighborhoods where one racial or ethnic group predominates. For example, a 2017 Harvard University study found that roughly 69% of the U.S. population lived in majority-white neighborhoods between 2011 and 2015.

Political Polarization & Increased Mistrust of Institutions

Residential segregation also exacerbates political polarization and public mistrust of institutions. 

Writing for Bloomberg CityLab shortly before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, urban studies professor Richard Florida noted that geography was increasingly predictive of political affiliation. 

Democratic voters cluster in cities and inner suburbs, while Republican voters favor lower-density geographies. This self-sorting creates bubbles of relative ideological homogeneity. That often manifests in antagonistic relations between local and state leaders, which came to a head during the COVID-19 pandemic in states including Texas and Wisconsin. 

It also leads to dysfunction in state and federal governments and coarsening public discourse. A 2016 study by researchers at the University of Mississippi and Stony Brook University, SUNY, found that the percentage of positive political ads declined from 90% during the 1960 U.S. presidential campaign to less than 15% during the 2012 presidential campaign.


Final Word

Selecting the “best” neighborhood is a fundamental part of finding new housing. Every prospective renter or homebuyer gives some thought to the characteristics of the communities they consider moving to and ranks them based on priorities like access to quality schools, open space, or urban amenities.

Few prospective renters and homebuyers think much about why certain communities have characteristics that make them desirable. They also never wonder why those same communities are often less accessible to those the Fair Housing Act exists to protect, from persons with disabilities to historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups. 

That’s understandable. The exercise is a discomfiting one, but it’s also necessary. 

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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Get a New Job in 2022: 5 Tips You’ll Need to Know

Maybe you were part of the Great Resignation of 2021 and you’re looking for a different job in 2022. You might be a parent ready to return to work after helping your kids with virtual schooling. Or you’re just ready to move on to something new.

Whatever the reason, now is the time to polish your resume, think about your transferable skills and, yes, learn how to interview with a robot.

Here are five tips for landing that next job in the new year.

1. Create the Best Resume

There’s a fine line between making your resume stand out and conforming to norms employers expect that simplify the hiring process for them.

Your Resume’s Format

Here are a few basics for a resume format:

  • Keep it to a page or a page and half max, with a lot of white space.
  • An online resume can include hyperlinks to your portfolio or other examples of your work.
  • Always send it as a PDF.
  • Avoid novelty fonts and stick with Ariel, Times Roman or Cambria.

Your Resume’s Content

Along with the basic contact info, education and work experience, be sure to include the following:

  • Use keywords on your resume, typically in the job description within your work experience. But only use words that fit logically. Don’t pepper every possible keyword into your resume.
  • Academic or professional honors.
  • Additional software skills, certifications or other training.
  • Interesting hobbies, volunteer work or organizations.

The final, and most important tip: Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Get a friend to proofread. Get another friend to proofread. Then proofread again.

For more detailed information on writing a resume, check out this post on how to write a resume.

2. Write a Great Cover Letter

Ugh. You finish the resume and then there’s that dreaded cover letter.

It has to say why you are the best person for the job without sounding like you are full of yourself and spewing all the usual accolades. Here are some basic tips for how to write a cover letter.

  • Never write “Dear Sir or Madam.” Try to find the hiring manager’s name or open with “Dear human resources team.”
  • Keep it all to one page — or less.
  • Offer specifics about what you like about the company and the position. Read up on the employer to find something distinctive.
  • Tout your experience and skills without sounding like a bragger. This is a fine line but it’s very doable. Instead of, “I know more about X than anyone around,” try, “I know my three years of experience in X give me the background to be an important part of your team.”
  • Find a value or past experience you have that aligns with this company’s growth or philosophy.
  • Talk about next steps such as following up with a call or email, scheduling an interview or attending an open house.

3. Master an Interview With a Webcam

In the era of remote work, the interview process is more and more remote, too.

Sometimes a live interviewer doesn’t even enter the process until the second round. Sadly, employers have discovered that they can review 20, 30 or 50 applicants without dedicating a live person to the task.

So you’ll need some video interview tips for your meeting with a robot. Using artificial intelligence, it will assess your body language and eye contact along with responses to written or oral questions.

Make a list beforehand of phrases such as “team player” or skills used in the job posting, and be sure to use them in your responses. Example: If the job requires three years experience, use the phrase “three years” or “more than three years” in your responses.

4. Remember to Say Thank You

It’s not sucking up, it’s a common courtesy that employers not only notice, they pretty much expect. If you meet with an actual person online or in person, be sure to get their email address so you can send a thank you email  for their time and consideration.

This is another opportunity to set yourself apart from the others.

Reiterate points you made in your interview that you can tell went over well with: “As we discussed, I would add X to your team” or “I have a great interest in and experience with your latest endeavor, X.”

You can also include one more examples of your work that you hadn’t sent before but realized during the interview would be helpful.

5. Continue Following Up

Yes, you might risk feeling like a stalker, but it’s perfectly acceptable to check in on the hiring process after your thank-you email.

Be sure to ask about the hiring timeframe during your interview, so you can reference it when you follow up. Most employers take longer than they expect, so chances are you won’t hear about the job within their projected time. And, sadly, fewer and fewer companies let you know if they’ve filled the job with someone who isn’t you.

So a couple weeks after your interview, it’s fine to send a casual email checking in to see if there are any updates.

When deciding how to follow up after an interview, remember to keep things casual, non-demanding, respectful and self-confident. No one wants to hire a candidate who sounds impatient, desperate or passive-aggressive.

Veteran journalist Katherine Snow Smith is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She covers ways to make money, save money and other topics. Her work as appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Charlotte Business Journal and Greenville (S.C.) News. She is the author of “Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker.”

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com