Economic Justice Initiative Overview
The mission of the FCADV'S Economic Justice Initiative is to provide training, information and resources to address the economic conditions that create barriers to the long-term independence and safety of survivors and their children. Ultimately, economic justice means fairness and equality for survivors and the ability to make decisions about their lives and intimate relationships without fear of negative financial impact.
Financial instability is one of the largest obstacles for survivors seeking safety and one of the reasons that survivors most often give for why they stay or have returned to their abuser. The ability to survive financially without the abuser presents challenges, whether it be due to loss of income, a place to live, childcare, healthcare or other money issues, including access to credit. Advocating for economic justice strategies can improve the many social conditions that prevent safety for survivors. Safe options to addressing some of these challenges include making informed decisions about how to avoid predatory lending and consumer scams, building good credit, accessing resources for affordable housing, financial education and for building assets through savings, homeownership or entrepreneurship.
As a part of the Economic Justice Initiative, FCADV provides on-site, regional and statewide trainings as well as technical assistance to Florida's certified domestic violence centers. The training includes information on working with survivors to develop spending plans, avoid predatory lending, re-establish credit and/or banking relationships and learning about innovative programs such as matched savings and micro-entrepreneurship.
Trainings and technical assistance are also available to help advocates understand housing protections for survivors and indentify potential solutions to long-term housing needs. In addition to training and technical assistance, FCADV works to support implementation of VAWA housing protections and to indentify additional resources for survivors. Affordable housing is a complex challenge, and FCADV is committed to exploring innovative strategies to address this issue.
The Allstate Foundation provides funding to FCADV to support designated local centers with economic empowerment programs for survivors. These programs provide education in financial literacy, access to local resources, expanding access to banking services and building financial stability by using strategies such as matched savings.
For more information, contact the Economic Justice program by telephone at (850) 425-2749.
Resources for Advocates / Housing Links and Resources
Accessing safe and affordable housing is a consistent barrier for survivors. Below are helpful links to address the housing needs of survivors. However, training and technical assistance specific to housing is available through FCADV’s Economic Justice program. For more information, contact the Economic Justice program by telephone at (850) 425-2749.
Housing Rights for Survivors of Domestic Violence Living in Public Housing or Using Vouchers. 2006.
Maintaining Safe and Stable Housing for Domestic Violence Survivors
Finding Affordable and Accessible Rental Housing
A useful tool for assisting survivors is a housing locator system with an up-to-date database of all housing units built with public funding (in English and Spanish). The Information is sorted by counties. The database is maintained by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Plans are underway to include privately financed housing. To access the system, visit:www.floridahousingsearch.org.
Finding Housing Data for Florida
The Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing and its Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse provides free access to a data and information about housing in Florida, including data on demographics, housing market characteristics, affordable housing needs and housing stock. Data includes housing needs of Florida's farmworkers, elderly, homeless, persons with disabilities and extremely low income households. You may access information online by visiting http://flhousingdata.shimberg.ufl.edu/. You may also reach the Center by calling 800.259.5705.
The Allstate Foundation in partnership with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) produces a financial empowerment curriculum. This curriculum includes financial tools and information to assist survivors of domestic violence to fully understand the dynamics of economic abuse. Survivors engage in short-term and long-term planning to accomplish their personal financial goals and gain financial stability. Survivors learn:
Approaches for locating and effectively accessing local, state and national personal safety and financial resources;
- Information on how to protect one's personal and financial safety in-crisis and post-crisis;
- Strategies for dealing with the misuse of financial records; and
- Tools to help achieve long-term economic empowerment without regard to level of income or earning power.
Allstate employees and agencies partner with FCADV and Florida's certified domestic violence centers to train and support advocates to utilize the curriculum with survivors in groups or in one-on-one sessions.
For additional information on The Allstate Foundation economic empowerment programs or to download the free Moving Ahead Through Financial Management Curriculum, a comprehensive package of user-friendly financial tools and information available in English or Spanish, please visit: http://www.clicktoempower.org/.
If you are interested in receiving hard copies of the curriculum, training for facilitators or additional technical assistance, please contact FCADV’s Economic Justice Initiative by calling the number below.
For information about financial abuse and resources available to survivors, visit:http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?id=14107&state_code=PG. Womenlaw.org is also a project of NNEDV.
In addition to the Allstate Foundation, there are a number of programs that provide financial education on a broad range of topics that include gaining an understanding of basic financial services, developing money-management skills and learning how to effectively use banking services. The Money Smart Training Program, developed by the FDIC, is available free of charge to organizations to assist consumers. The curriculum is available on CD ROM in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Vietnamese, and Large Print. It is also available as a download in a MP3 audio digital format. The modules include an introduction to bank services and credit, how to choose and keep a checking account, how to keep track of money, consumer rights, factors affecting credit, saving, using credit cards, and homeownership. To access this information visit:http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/index.html.
For more information on financial education in general, contact the FCADV Economic Justice Initiative by telephone at (850) 425-2749.
Earned Income Tax Credit
Earned income tax credit helps people to keep more of what they earned. It is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. For more information about whether you may be eligible for an earned income tax credit visit http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96406,00.html to obtain facts and information.
Coalitions in Florida such as Prosperity Campaigns have developed effective ways to promote existing tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Childcare Tax Credit. Campaigns in each county offer free tax preparation services and educate the public on how to save or spend their refund. To locate assistance in your area visit:http://www.prosperitycampaign.org/.
Credit, Predatory Lending and Domestic Violence VAWnet provides a special collection of articles, bibliographies, fact sheets, laws and court action, papers, regulations, reports and surveys to assist advocates working on and interested in credit issues related to ending violence against women. Information includes credit counseling, credit discrimination, credit and housing, predatory and payday lending, and more. For more information visit the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (VAWnet) at www.vawnet.org. They may also be reached by phone at 1-800-537-2238; 1-800-553-2508 (TTY).
Free Credit Report
Many companies advertise on television and on the Internet that they offer "free" credit reports, when there are requirements to sign-up for other services for a specific fee. There is one central site that provides a truly free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. To obtain a free credit report, visit: www.annualcreditreport.com. Matched Savings Programs (Individual Development Accounts)
Matched savings accounts or Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) enable low-income families to save and build assets. IDAs encourage savings efforts by offering them 1:1, 2:1, or more generous matches for their own deposits. IDAs reward the monthly savings of working-poor families who are trying to buy their first home, pay for post-secondary education, or start a small business. Many IDA programs are funded through the Assets for Independence program from the US Department of Health and Human Services. These programs are implemented by community-based organizations in partnership with a financial institution that holds the deposits.
Microenterprise and Small Business Development
Microenterprise provides opportunities for survivors to start their own small business to supplement their income or as their main employment.
The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is the national association of community-based organizations that provides entrepreneurial education, access to capital, and support to aspiring and active low-income entrepreneurs. Their website provides a comprehensive overview of how micro loans work. The most common definition of microenterprise is a business with five or fewer employees requiring $35,000 or less in start-up capital. Microenterprise represents a path from poverty to financial security for many low-income individuals.
AEO estimates that there are over 20 million such businesses in the U.S. www.microenterpriseworks.org