Economic Justice Project
A lack of financial stability is one of the biggest deterrents for women who are considering leaving an abusive situation. Leaving the economic security of a home, income and benefits is more than many survivors of domestic violence can fathom – especially if they have children. In 2002, KDVA’s Economic Justice Project took root when the directors of KDVA’s 15 programs identified helping survivors become economically self-sufficient as a top priority.
The first step was creating an Individual Development Account, or IDA, program. IDAs are matched, restricted savings accounts. Participants pledge to save for a home, education or small business and their savings are matched 2:1. Today, about 200 account holders are receiving financial education and one-on-one financial coaching while they save for a long-term asset. A total of 163 participants have completed the program and have used their funds for a new home (84), post-secondary education (72) or small business (7).
KDVA wanted to ensure its clients were taking advantage of the federal government’s largest anti-poverty program: the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. KDVA facilitates four free tax-preparation coalitions across the state. The coalitions offer free tax-preparation services, financial education and other asset-building services under the umbrella of the Kentucky Asset Success Initiative or KASI. In 2010, KASI served 10,298 tax filers at 53 sites, saving Kentucky families $2.2 million in fees and loan costs. Federal refunds back to Kentucky families totaled $13.5 million, and 3,476 families were able to claim the EITC resulting in over $5 million in EITC refunds.
Most recently, KDVA is building housing for domestic violence victims with tax credits issued by the Kentucky Housing Corporation. Plans are underway for the construction of 48 units of permanent housing in Louisville, and eastern and western Kentucky.