Through the Prosperity Campaign, United Way of Palm Beach County is helping individuals and families in Palm Beach County achieve financial stability and promote asset development. United Way of Palm Beach County's Prosperity Campaign is nationally recognized as a successful program that helps lower income households learn how to increase income, build savings and gain and sustain assets.
Kasha Owers, V.P. of Community Impact, explains the benefits of this community initiative.
Key components of the Prosperity Campaign include:
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Sites
United Way of Palm Beach County’s Prosperity Campaign began in the spring of 2004 with the opening of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. These sites provide FREE income tax-preparation services to households with an annual income of $52,000 or less a year and helps those who are eligible for Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) apply for them. The VITA sites are staffed by IRS-certified VITA volunteer preparers.
Last year, VITA helped process over 8,600 income tax returns for lower income households resulting in more than $5.4 million in earned income tax credits and over $14 million in tax returns. In addition, through the free tax service, residents saved more than $1 million in filing fees they would have paid had they used a tax-preparation company. Before United Way's involvement in the VITA Program, only 641 residents were using the service.
Since United Way has led the VITA Program, it has had a $204 million economic impact on the community*. Research shows that taxpayers receiving refunds through returns processed at VITA sites, used their refunds for many purposes such as paying off debt, investing in education or housing, or opening a bank account. This is new money for the local economy.
*Estimated based upon methodology applied by Center for Economic Development – University of Illinois Chicago
Individual Development Account (IDA) Program
The IDA Program is a matched-based savings program for the purchase of a home. Upon entering the Program, the eligible participant demonstrates the ability to save over a minimum of 6 months. Upon completion in the Program and accumulating $2,000 in savings, the money is matched 2:1. The participant is given $4,000 for a total of $6,000 toward the purchase of a home. As of October 2011, there have been 116 home purchases (no foreclosures) through the IDA Program.
Participants must qualify for the IDA program and an applicant’s income must be at 200% of the federal government poverty guidelines and have less than $10,000 in savings. Contact the nearest Prosperity Center for more information.
There are two Prosperity Centers located in Palm Beach County – Belle Glade and West Palm Beach (Coastal)- offering residents a one-stop source of financial stability services, including: Free Income Tax Preparation, Credit Counseling & Financial Education, Money Management & Budget Development, Educational & Career Counseling, First-time Homebuyer Education & Assistance, Micro-Enterprise Education & Assistance, Asset Building through savings and banking basics, Individual Development Account Program, Financial Case Management, Foreclosure Mitigation (intake); and Benefits Screening & Enrollment (access to food stamps, Kidcare, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.).
Housing Partnership, Inc. Prosperity Center Locations:
Belle Glade Prosperity Center
Bridges of Belle Glade
816 West Canal Street South
Belle Glade, FL 33430
Phone: 561.996.2479 Fax: 561.598.5674
West Palm Beach Prosperity Center
3111 S. Dixie Highway, Suite 221
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
Phone: 561.655.7581 Fax: 561.835.7116
For more information on the Prosperity Campaign and its programs, please contact at 561.375.6600.