CONNECT

Americorps Service at TND

The Neighborhood Developers has been working to overhaul our approach to financial education. A previous VISTA undertook research to help identify a path forward to increase the impact of our classes. VISTA John Murray is playing a key role in helping us define, pilot, adapt, and learn from the application of behavioral science principles to our work. He is managing the overall learning process, personally developed and launched a financial education class that meets certain internally-developed requirements, offers insights based on his experience of course delivery, and provides feedback to others on their own classes. This is an experimental year for us, and the work undertaken now by our VISTAs is helping us set a new direction for an area of work that we long felt needed it. John is simultaneously developing project management skills while moving an important new piece of work forward.

The Neighborhood Developers has helped community members access public benefits for several years, but our reach has been far outpaced by the magnitude of the "SNAP gap," i.e. the estimated number of families eligible for food stamps who are not accessing this important source of support. Last year the State changed its criteria for allocating formula funding to low-income school districts, with the result that many school districts are seeing funding cuts unless they can demonstrate that their low-income families meet the new definition. One way to meet the definition is by receiving SNAP.

With this alignment of interests, TND has partnered with the public school system to help identify eligible school families and help them through the application process. Jarelis Fonseca, who has learned the SNAP application process backward and forward, is our point person for monitoring this pipeline and improving the process, from handoffs to tracking, so we can assist more of these families.

 

 Jarelis Fonseca

Jarelis Fonseca

 John Murray

John Murray

Public Benefits Office Hours Expanded!

CONNECT offers application assistance for WIC, MassHealth, and SNAP (food stamps). Call 617-889-1375 and speak with the receptionist to schedule an appointment. The expanded service hours are as follows:
 

NEW HOURS
Mondays: 8:30-4:30
Tuesdays: 9:00-5:00
Wednesdays: 9:00-5:00
Thursdays: 8:30-4:30
Fridays: 9:00-2:30

 

Horario de la Oficina de Beneficios Públicos ¡EXPANDIDO!

CONNECT ofrece asistencia para WIC, MassHealth y SNAP (cupones de comida). Llame al 617-889-1375 y hable con la recepcionista para programar una cita. Las horas de servicio ampliadas son las siguientes:

Lunes 8:30-4:30
Martes 9:00-5:00
Miércoles 9:00-5:00
Jueves 8:30-12:30-4:30
Viernes 9:00-2:30

CONNECT Intake & Public Benefits Internship

The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. (TND) creates vibrant neighborhoods where people from all walks of life can thrive. Focused in Chelsea and Revere, TND has crafted a remarkable track record of success through investments that are conceived, designed, and fostered by neighborhood residents, municipal partners, and many stakeholders. TND brings its core strengths -- building homes, engaging neighbors, and fostering economic mobility -- to community partnerships that create thriving families and strong neighborhoods. TND created and supports the CONNECT Financial Opportunity Center that co-locates and integrates the services of five agencies working together to improve the financial mobility of 4,000 clients annually.

Based at the CONNECT office in Chelsea, the Intake & Public Benefits intern will work one-on-one to help families apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps), MassHealth, and WIC benefits. These public benefits have proven antipoverty impacts for low income families and provide an important safety net. Each of these public benefits provides clients with a significant increase to their monthly income, but many of CONNECT’s clients are missing out on accessing these benefits due to systemic barriers in the application process, stigma associated with participation in government programs, or lack of awareness of eligibility. The Public Benefits intern will help eliminate barriers to financial stability among CONNECT’s low-income constituency through providing application assistance and case management support throughout the entire application process.  The intern will help families to submit applications for benefits, collect required documentation, and navigate the complicated application process. Additional responsibilities include participating in bi-weekly core services staff meetings, providing an orientation of other services to clients, completing intake forms, calling the DTA and MassHealth customer assistance lines to help resolve client cases, and creating referrals to other services. Other tasks and activities may be added, based on the intern’s interests and organizational need.

This position is a good match for you if you like working directly with families, are bilingual (English and Spanish), have a high attention to detail, and can advocate for others. You’ll find that no two cases are the same, so this position requires creativity and flexibility in figuring out how to best help each client. The position also requires a high level of responsibility and ability to work independently.

We are looking to fill multiple intern positions and will fill the positions on a rolling basis. The ideal candidate can commit to a minimum of 10 hours a week. The schedule is flexible, and will be determined based on your availability and program need.

For more information, please contact Blake Roberts Crall, Program Director:
broberts@tndinc.org    617-889-1375 x128

Citizens Bank Invests in Financial Opportunities

At an April statehouse event, TND received a $30,000 donation from Citizens Bank. A frequent TND partner, Citizens Bank has provided invaluable support for financial education classes delivered at CONNECT. The goals of the classes are to help 150 people annually to improve credit, decrease debt, and provide access to banking services. Citizens Bank employees are frequently seen at TND’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program - providing free tax preparation and information on how to maximize the value of a tax refund. Last week’s donation will bolster those programs and amplify results like these:

Achievement Highlights

  • 94.2% of surveyed CONNECT clients said they were more confident that they can reach their financial goals, and 73.2% of respondents reported that they are better able to meet their living expenses than they were 18 months before.

  • Compared with status at intake, 35.8% of clients increased the time their household could meet their living expenses, 42.4% of clients stayed the same, and 21.7% reported a shorter timeframe.

  • Between 2008 and 2016, TND’s VITA program has brought $11.8 million back into the community, with $2.8 million of that in EITC tax credits.


Your contribution of any amount will support our mission to build vibrant and diverse neighborhoods with homes that are affordable to families with a mix of incomes, where people choose to invest in the social fabric, economic opportunities and built environment.

Celebrating 10 Years of VITA

Revere and Chelsea, MA -- In the world of upside-down tax programs, for every dollar of homeownership tax benefits a low-income family gets, a multi-millionaire will get $15,450 (The Topic Policy Center). But there is one tax program that actually has a positive impact on the working families that need the assistance: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).

And The Neighborhood Developers (TND) is having its 10th anniversary of providing VITA services to Chelsea and Revere.  On average, the tax-credit refund amount for TND's VITA clients is 9% of their annual income. So coming to TND for just one service gets them almost a 10th of their income for the whole year. This means they really rely on this service being available to them.

Across the nation, each year VITA volunteers prepare millions of tax returns at thousands of tax sites nationwide. “In 2014, the EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit] lifted 6.7 million people out of poverty. The same year, the Child Tax Credit protected approximately 3.1 million people from poverty, including about 1.6 million children.” (Results.org) Here is a moment to multiply 6.7 million and 3.1 million by 10 years.

Organizations like The Neighborhood Developers open their doors to residents and guide them through the tax system to life-changing tax credits, including: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); Child Tax Credit (CTC); and The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC).

The late Senator Edward Kennedy said, “If you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, in the richest nation in the world, you should not have to live in poverty.” For millions of families, VITA made that a reality.

The Neighborhood Developers and the other VITA organizations around the country provide this service with the help of volunteers. Volunteers are the core of VITA. Many come with no experience working with taxes, and they are trained by organizations like The Neighborhood Developers on how to provide this direct service, to participate in the national movement that collectively pulls millions of people out of poverty.

Free Credit Class

You will learn the 5 keys to establish and maintain good credit. You'll also become equipped with strategies to deal with creditors and prioritize bill payment.

When:         

3/2 10 am to 11:30am

Where:        

The Neighborhood Developers
4 Gerrish Ave, Chelsea, MA 02150

Contact:     

Danielle Osterman
Financial Capabilities Program Assistant
dosterman@tndinc.org
617.889.1375

4 Ways to Save Your Tax Refund

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance ProgramTND has a financial services advocate volunteer position that is staffed by various banks when we're open for taxes. They can help people open bank accounts. Before you
Savings Account

The classic -- maybe the most basic and common way to set money aside for savings. This is a bank account that you can get at almost any bank. The difference between it your checking account and a savings account is that you earn interest.

myRA

Retirement savings account for low income folks

myRA is a simple, safe, affordable way to start saving for retirement. Open a myRA, build up savings, then move on to other investments. myRA® is designed to make saving for retirement easy for people who need it most – workers who don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at their job or lack other options to save.

 

529 college savings

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Savings Bonds

U.S. Savings bonds are debt securities issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help pay for the U.S. government’s borrowing needs. U.S. savings bonds are considered one of the safest investments because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

We hope at a minimum people are learning that these types of accounts exist  even if they aren't ready to open one that day. Within the tax software they can purchase savings bonds with their refunds and hopefully put some of that refund into a savings account.

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)

Just because you know that there are options, doesn’t mean you can navigate the US tax system. That’s where VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) comes in. If you have low- or moderate income and you live in the Boston Metro area, call the Neighborhood Developers: