INCOME: Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH)
What is Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH)?
Created in 2004 following a merger of the Self-Sufficiency Steering Committee and the Asset Building Coalition of Western New York, the primary goal of Creating Assets, Savings & Hope (CASH) is to increase the stability of low-income families and individuals by increasing access to tax credits and other social program benefits; improving financial literacy, and providing opportunities for affordable housing and other asset development. Over the last several years, the coalition has grown to over sixty community-based organizations, government agencies, and banks that work to further these coordinated and proactive development strategies.
CASH's Free Tax Preparation Network is part of a national initiative designed to assist working families and individuals in accessing Earned Income and Child Tax Credits while receiving assistance with federal and state tax preparation. Additionally, the network reduces the need for low-income families to utilize paid tax preparers and reduces exposure to high interest refund anticipation loans. The Free Income Tax Preparation Network regularly includes ten to twelve community-based locations.
To increase awareness of tax credit and social program benefits, CASH also encourages the use of the Self-Sufficiency Calculator. This web-based tool helps working adults to access a variety of income supports including Medicaid, food stamps, and HEAP by screening income eligibility, estimating benefit amounts, providing ready access to key information sources, and calculating how well a given wage will meet a working individual's real expenses.
CASH is also working to develop a pool of participants for its financial literacy education programming as it assists in the development of Individual Development Accounts (IDA) for City of Buffalo residents. An IDA is a special savings account for low-income people that enables them to receive matched funds for each dollar they deposit into their savings account. Typically, IDA savings and match money can be used to buy a house, pay for education, or start a small business.
How is CASH achieving results?
Over the last two years, the Free Tax Preparation Network of Buffalo and Erie County has completed nearly 21,000 state and federal tax returns
Hard working, low-income families and individuals receiving these services have secured over $26 million in refunds and credits
More than 5,000 individuals and families have been screened for nineteen income supports using the Self-Sufficiency Calculator
Through a partnership with Belmont Shelter Corporation, Creating Assets, Savings & Hope (CASH) has opened its first Individual Development Account program funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assets for Independence Program
CASH has recently begun digital access recordings of its financial education curriculum which is based on the empirically-tested MoneySKILL Program developed by University at Buffalo School of Management Professor Lewis Mandell
Who are CASH partners?
Nearly 60 community-based organizations, government agencies and banks are working with CASH to increase the financial stability of hardworking people in Erie County. For a full listing of all CASH partners, click here to visit the CASH Buffalo website.
For more information, or to get involved in CASH's work, call Meghan Hardy at 887-2708 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.