The week that was: Rental woes

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Rental woes

As average rental prices in America climb, renters with shrinking wages are struggling to make up the difference, according to a report released by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. "America's Rental Housing: Evolving Markets and Needs" notes that more than half of the nation's renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing and that between 2000 and 2012 the real median income of renters dropped 13 percent.

Rocky road with low credit

Drivers with low credit scores may be seeing hits to their wallets for their auto insurance, according to the Consumer Federation of America. The association said a 30-year-old single woman living in a major city with a good driving record could pay anywhere between $563 and $1,277 per year for auto insurance, depending on whether her credit score is poor or excellent. The New York-based Insurance Information Institute argues that drivers with poor credit scores file 40 percent more claims than those with the highest scores.

Helping hand

Anyone hoping to lift an extra 40 pounds without hitting the gym may soon be able to spend $2,000 for a bionic option. Titan Arm, a battery-powered arm brace that aids in heavy lifting tasks -- and helps to rehabilitate trauma victims -- won a team of University of Pennsylvania engineering students $75,000 in prize money and national attention. The team is working to refine its prototype for manufacturing.

Quote of the Week

"The situation is quite devastating in terms of the demand food banks are experiencing. Some of those in need have jobs but don't earn enough to put food on the table or they are senior citizens who have to choose between, 'Do I heat my home, or get the medicine I need, or buy food?' That's the reality."

-- John Ellis, Pittsburgh Foundation vice president for communications, on the regional food bank shortage. The foundation launched a holiday appeal that aims to provide matching funds for donations to local hunger aid organizations.

Deborah M. Todd: or 412-263-1652.

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