ROAD TO OPPORTUNITY:  FINDING THE WAY FORWARD THROUGH COVID-19 AND BEYOND
April 23, 2020
MASSCAP CommunityActionWorks
#CommunityActionWorks
DID YOU KNOW: We are OPEN and READY TO SERVE
  • The effects of the pandemic continue to compound the needs of the people we serve as well as many families seeking help for the first time.
  • The programs we run and services we provide are even more important now to help stabilize lives.
  • Heating Help Programs including Fuel Assistance (LIHEAP) and Energy Efficiency Programs helped 160,000 households in MA last year including 35% children and 47% elderly. 
  • VITA sites not only provide free tax prep (including virtual VITA), but also provide access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) as well as other tax credits.
  • The EITC and the Child Tax Credit CTC have kept 150,000 people out of poverty in MA by helping them to bridge the wage gap.
PUBLIC POLICY MATTERS
The state funding for policy and programs are crucial in finding the way forward in Massachusetts, especially now when so many are being negatively impacted by COVID-19.  Part of our response must include supporting public policies that will help our vulnerable friends and neighbors living with low incomes to weather this very trying period.  We believe that the below few critical budget measures for the FY21 budget will strengthen our social safety net now and into the future.
 
Please join us in supporting our TOP FY21 Priorities:
 
Creating a Foundation for Economic Opportunity 
  • Create State Fuel Assistance Line Item ($10M)
  • Fuel Assistance is a defacto federal and state partnership
    • The state has provided between $10M and $30M as needed over the past 30 years.
  • Federal resources have declined over the past several years from $200M to $130M and will likely continue to decrease.
  • Keeping people healthy, safe and warm in their homes is essential.
  • Learn more at heatinghelpma.org 
Bridging the Wage Gap 
  • Provide resources for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance ($800K)
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites help taxpayers working 1, 2 and sometimes 3 jobs access the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a resource that is critically important now.
  • Learn more at www.masscap.org/freetaxprep
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: VITA Sites Continue to Help Taxpayers Despite Operation Changes due to COVID-19

One daycare provider, currently shut down and burdened with medical debt, was able to file her taxes for the current year and preceding two years and receive a +$3,600 refund, thanks to Making Opportunity Count (MOC) VITA site.

One Lawrence taxpayer was able to file his tax returns for both this year and last quickly allowing him to be eligible for his stimulus funds in a timely fashion, thanks to Greater Lawrence Community Action Council (GLCAC) VITA site.

One homeless college graduate whose UMass tuition was paid in ful l by DCF as she was an orphan in foster care was able to receive tax refunds f or bo th this y ear and last thanks to Community Teamwork (CTI)  VITA Site volunteer preparer's knowledge of education credits and exceptions on when you have to claim a portion of the scholarship money as income.  CTI is also working with her in their youth homelessness prevention program.
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION 
Heating Help is still available through end of May! Agencies are taking applications over the phone.  Visit  heatinghelpma.org for more information about fuel assistance and the agency serving your area.

Free Tax Prep is available at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. Federal and MA tax deadlines extended through July 15, 2020. Find your Community Action VITA site at masscap.org/freetaxprep and call now.

We urge you to support the FY21 priorities so that together we can move forward on the road to opportunity. Visit our Public Policy Priorities webpage.

Get Everyone Counted: Census 2020!  Federal funding is at stake!  Health care, education, and emergency planning all depend on getting an accurate census count.
COMMUNITY ACTION IN MA

Our Mission
To strengthen and connect the statewide network of Community Action Agencies and collectively advocate for an end to poverty.

Our Vision
All MA residents will be able to meet their basic needs, access economic opportunities, build strong communities and move toward prosperity...

Find your Agency
There are 23 Community Action Agencies in Massachusetts serving virtually every city and town in the state.   To locate the agency in your area and learn more about the programs they offer,  click here .

NOTE:
Community Action Agencies are observing the advice and directives of the Governor.  Dedicated CAA staff are working remotely, stand ready to help, and continue to support people in need with services such as fuel assistance and food pantries.  Please check your local CAA's website or call for information about how to access services.


#EndPovertyMA #CommunityActionWorks