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A lack of financial stability is one of the biggest deterrents for women who are considering leaving an abusive relationship. 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, KCADV’s Economic Justice Project took root when the directors of KCADV’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 restricted savings accounts designated for a specific asset goal. Participants in KCADV’s Classic-IDA program pledge to save for a home, education or small business and their savings are matched 4:1. As of August 2014, about 150 account holders from KCADV member programs and community partners are receiving financial education and one-on-one financial coaching while they save for a long-term asset. Nearly 350 participants have used their funds for a new home, post-secondary education, or small business. A Car-IDA program helps domestic violence survivors purchase reliable transportation to improve their employment and housing opportunities, matching savings dollar-for-dollar up to $2000. Approximately 70 survivors are enrolled, and 75 have purchased cars with their savings and earned match.
In 2014, KCADV entered into an innovative partnership with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) to offer IDAs and other economic empowerment opportunities to students in their Ready-to-Work (RTW) program. The RTW program is designed to help TANF recipients complete post-secondary education by providing work-study opportunities that meet their work requirements and support services that encourage them to succeed. “Completion” IDAs will help them complete associate’s degrees while reducing their student loan burden.
KCADV has also offered free tax-preparation services under the umbrella of the Kentucky Asset Success Initiative or KASI, a statewide coalition of asset-building coalitions centered around tax-time, which KCADV organized until 2014. KCADV provides free tax preparation for its 15 member programs and operates a site in Lexington’s Parkside neighborhood that serves a large number of immigrant taxpayers. In 2014, KASI prepared 12,457 tax returns for low- to moderate-income households at close to 80 locations, saving Kentucky families nearly $1.5 million in fees and loan costs. Federal refunds returned to Kentucky families totaled more than $18.4 million, and 37% of families were able to claim the EITC.
In 2011, 48 units of supportive housing for survivors of domestic violence were opened in Louisville, Morehead, Paducah, and Murray. The KCADV Homes units were funded with tax credits issued by the Kentucky Housing Corporation. Residents of KCADV Homes units have access to the full range of economic empowerment and other supportive services offered by KCADV member programs and to one-on-one support from experienced advocates trained to help survivors become financially stable.
More aspects of this Project
• *NEW!!* KCTCS partnership success stories:
• Download our Success Stories PDF
• Download our Outcome Evaluation Brief Report PDF