Economic Justice Project
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, 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 4:1. Today, about 100 account holders are receiving financial education and one-on-one financial coaching while they save for a long-term asset. About 300 participants have completed the program and have used their funds for a new home, post-secondary education, or small business. A Car-IDA program helps survivors purchase reliable transportation to improve their employment and housing opportunities, matching savings dollar-for-dollar up to $2000. Currently, about 65 survivors are enrolled, and 56 have purchased cars with their savings and earned match.
KDVA also 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 six 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 2013, KASI prepared 11,758 tax returns for low- to moderate-income households at 86 locations, saving Kentucky families approximately $1.5 million in fees and loan costs. Federal and state refunds back to Kentucky families totaled $18.3million, and 35% 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 KDVA Homes units were funded with tax credits issued by the Kentucky Housing Corporation. Residents of KDVA Homes units have access to the full range of economic empowerment services offered by KDVA member programs and to one-on-one support from experienced advocates trained to help survivors become financially stable.