Community Budget Issue Requests - Tracking Id #3986
Central Florida ACORN Institute Financial Justice Center
Requester: Stephanie Porta Organization: ACORN Institute
Project Title: Central Florida ACORN Institute Financial Justice Center Date Submitted 1/12/2007 2:23:36 PM
Sponsors: Randolph
Statewide Interest:
ACORN Institute will assist low income community residents with our free tax preparation center to complete EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) and other tax returns. Our program will ensure that the largest possible volume of EITC dollars arrives in the pockets of the families who have earned them. The free tax site will provide an easily-accessible alternative to commercial tax preparation services for most EITC and low-income filers and, because we will use the IRS electronic filing system, taxpayers will receive their refunds quickly, generally within eight to fifteen days. Families are bombarded with expensive, impractical and oftentimes destructive methods to do their financial business - from payday loans & high cost check cashing services to high cost refinance mortgages. We are faced with a situation where the neediest must spend the most to get the financial services they need for day-to-day life. Therefore our Financial Justice Center will not only provide free tax preparation, generating millions in tax return dollars that will be reinvested in the community, but will also tackle the problem of predatory lending by providing community outreach and education and offering referrals to first time home buying programs.
Recipient: ACORN Institute   Contact: Stephanie Porta  
  714 E. Colonial Dr.   Contact Phone: (407) 592-4784  
  Orlando 32803   Contact email:
Counties: Orange, Osceola
Gov't Entity:   Private Organization (Profit/Not for Profit): Yes
Project Description:
The overall goal of this project is to increase the financial literacy of low -income residents of Orange County, as well as to decrease the reliance on fringe financial services and increase the use of mainstream products and services. We will accomplish this through the following services: Community Outreach and Education- We will conduct a door to door canvass that connects families to all of our services and provides basic literacy information in easy brochure format about the hazards of payday loans, high cost check cashing services, and predatory mortgages. Free Tax Preparation- We will have a free tax site open with three tax preparers. This is in partnership with the IRS as a VITA site. Financial Justice Classes- We will offer classes twice a month where families will receive their credit report and information about credit repair from trusted community leaders. These classes are designed for families who want to improve their credit, are facing financial difficulties and have questions about getting back on the path to wealth building. These classes offer basic information and we will refer families to more in depth counseling as needed. The topics covered are avoiding financial pitfalls, including what to look for in a good loan and a bad loan, how to find responsible lenders and banks, consumers' rights with bill collectors, what to look for when buying a car or house, and other topics.
Is this a project related to a federal or state declared disaster? No
Measurable Outcome Anticipated:
We plan to reach 43,200 households through our outreach activities, including 7,200 one-on-one contacts in each office. We will prepare taxes for 1,000 families, focusing our outreach on EITC or Child Tax Credit recipients in Orange County. We will hold 12 Consumer Financial Safety Workshops throughout the year, with a total of 200 people attending in each office. We will have at least 5 community leaders trained at seminars held around the country in each office.
Amount requested from the State for this project this year: $50,000
Total cost of the project: $75,000
Request has been made to fund: Operations
What type of match exists for this project? Local, Private
  Cash Amount $40,000   In-kind Amount $20,000
Was this project previously funded by the state?   No
Is future-year funding likely to be requested?   No
Was this project included in an Agency's Budget Request?   No
Was this project included in the Governor's Recommended Budget? No
Is there a documented need for this project? Yes
  Documentation: IRS national data
Was this project request heard before a publicly noticed meeting of a body of elected officials (municipal, county, or state)?   Yes
  Hearing Body: Orange County Board of County Commissioners
Is this a water project as described in Section 403.885, Laws of Florida?   No