Bold Changes in Financial Stability
In the Greater Stark County area, many families live paycheck-to-paycheck with no clear path to a more stable future. But poverty doesn’t have to be permanent.
At United Way of Greater Stark County, we help create a pathway to financial stability by equipping people with the tools they need to get better jobs, keep more of what they earn and save for their children’s futures.
With your help, more families in our community can gain financial independence. Join the fight, and together, we can LIVE UNITED.
Stark County Faces Ongoing Financial Challenges
- 12 percent of Stark County residents live below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (Source: U.S. Census, Ohio Poverty Report)
- Since the recession in 2007, the cost of meeting basic needs in Ohio has increased by 23 percent while the median income has increased by 2 percent (Source: Association of Community Action Agencies’ State of Poverty Report)
- 1 in 4 Stark County children under age 18 are living in poverty (Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey)
- 39.1 percent of Stark County residents are liquid asset poor, meaning they do not have access to sufficient funds to subsist in case of an emergency (Source: U.S. Dept. of Treasury, CFED-Corp. for Enterprise Development)
- The average hourly wage one must earn in a 40-hour workweek to afford the Fair Market Rent of $717 per month for a 2-bedroom apartment is $13.79. The average Stark County renter’s wage is $10.86 per hour (Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach)
70 percent of Stark County residents will spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing
United Way currently invests $1.18 million in 26 programs focused on providing pathways out of poverty, allowing families to build long-term economic independence. We fund programs and services that provide:
- Access to affordable housing
- Financial coaching
- Household stabilization
- Job training and preparation
In 2016, 3,550 tax returns were completed through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helping Stark County residents claim $2.4 million in total refunds. For families struggling to make ends meet, a few extra dollars in their pockets can make all the difference. IRS-certified volunteers ensure clients receive the credits and refunds for which they are eligible including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty programs. In 2015, 712 VITA clients claimed the EITC and child tax credit resulting in $894,132 total credits.
Through United Way’s Financial Prosperity Center and our funded partners, we’re helping to lift more families in our community out of poverty.
VITA Makes An Impact
I was getting by, but barely. I was counting on my tax refund to give me the extra boost my finances needed but didn’t have a clue how to make sure I got every possible credit. That’s when I heard about United Way’s VITA program. I called the office and scheduled a free tax appointment. When I walked into United Way’s offices, I never could have imagined how happy I would be when I left. The volunteer I worked with found every tax credit I qualified for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). As a result, my refund was $3,150.
That was more than I had ever dreamed of. The same day I came in, banks were on-hand to help me set up a savings account where my refund could be directly deposited. I was also connected with MyBudgetCoach for a year of financial training. When I called United Way, I was simply focused on survival. Now, I have the ability to thrive financially through long-term financial planning. And, it all started with my choice to be the one to pick up the phone.
Stories like this one are heard each day during tax season. Our VITA program makes strides in asset building, financial coaching and household stabilization to help achieve our community’s Bold Goals for financial stability.