CEO Corner: Mobile Home Tax Reassessment Program
United Way of Chester County is continuing its important Mobile Home Tax Reassessment initiative and has an ambitious goal of completing 500 successful appeals this year. Partnering with Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, LCH Health and Community Services (previously known as La Comunidad Hispana) and local food pantries, the Mobile Home Tax Reassessment program offers assistance to mobile home owners in Chester County to file for property tax reassessment appeals.
Unlike your standard home, a mobile home depreciates like a car rather than appreciating like a house. So with its value dropping approximately 3% per year, it very quickly gets over assessed. To address this issue, United Way of Chester County created the Mobile Home Tax Reassessment Project. United Way of Chester County and program partners complete and file the appeal, including payment of the book valuation (appraisal) and county filing fees, and representatives from Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania attend the appeal hearing for the client. The client does not have to face the appeal board – this program does that for them!
“This initiative has saved hundreds of thousands in taxes and penalties that should have never been owed to begin with, if not for a flaw in the state tax code that requires they be taxed like a house,” said Christopher Saello, President and CEO of United Way of Chester County. “Even further, estimates suggest that approximately 40% of all mobile and manufactured homes are in land lease communities, which devalues their worth even further.” United Way of Chester County is working with County officials to make the process simpler, as well as educating and advocating our local and state government officials.
In just two years, the United Way Mobile Home Tax Reassessment program has made great impact:
- Assisted in 510 successful appeals
- Lowered assessments by 70%
- Saved each mobile home owner an average of $966 on their annual taxes
- Collectively saved these mobile home owners $4.9 million over the next 10 years that they should have never owed to begin with if not for a flaw in state tax code.
Although some progress has been made, there is still work to do. There are 3,600 mobile homes in Chester County and only 19% have been reassessed. To learn more about the Mobile Home Tax Reassessment project, click here or contact Darshana Shyamsunder, Director, Community Impact Initiatives, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4112. If you are interested in financially supporting this initiative, please contact Doug Kaiser, Director of Resource Development, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4102.
Community Connection: 2-1-1 Day
DID YOU KNOW… 8,659 Chester County residents contacted 2-1-1 for information and assistance in 2020?
United Way of Chester County hosted a virtual event on 2-1-1 day highlighting the information and referral resources available to callers. The event featured multiple partners, including UWCC who currently manages the Coordinated Entry System for Chester County powered by 2-1-1.
Free Tax Help Available
Tax season is here! The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (LTM VITA) program offers free tax preparation for low and moderate income households. Take advantage of this free tax program to file today.
- Taxes are prepared by IRS-Certified Volunteers
- Absolutely no fees
- Fast refunds with direct deposit
- File online or drop off services available
- Services may be restricted by tax form and income
Service locations include Honey Brook, West Grove, Coatesville, Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Pottstown, Phoenixville and Royersford.
This program is made possible in part with a grant from the United States IRS and funding from the United Way of Chester County Community Impact and Innovation Fund.
To learn more about locations, times, and what to bring, click here.
United Way Financial Stability Center Partner Highlight: Open Hearth
With the help of our partners, United Way Financial Stability Center helps its clients to navigate a path toward a more secure financial future
Open Hearth’s goal for its clients is to increase income, decrease debt and build savings. One of the keys to helping their clients succeed is their Financial Navigator, Ashley Thornton. Ashley serves as a point of entry for the United Way Financial Stability Center. Her role is to complete an initial intake and financial assessment for individuals interested in accessing services located within the Financial Stability Center and to provide financial coaching. Ashley also coordinates resources to help promote and achieve her client’s goals.
“What I believe makes this program so successful is the individualized coaching I provide to each client, encouraging them to take control,” said Ashley. “By taking this approach, it ultimately helps them become more successful at reaching their goal(s).”
Being with Open Hearth for more than 8 years, Ashley’s passion is watching her clients thrive. One of her favorite client success stories is Carrie.
Carrie met with Ashley in hopes to create a budget that would allow her to become financially organized to repair her credit and debt. When first meeting, she mentioned that a goal of hers was to find new employment that would allow her finances to feel less strained.
Ashley assisted Carrie in laying out her expenses in a month-view so that Carrie could see what was coming in and what was going out. It helped Carrie understand how she had to stretch her paychecks to ensure that all bills were paid before her next pay.
In less than one month, Carrie landed a new position, where she was earning the salary she desired. Within seven months, Carrie set up accounts for herself that would allow her to feel organized and in more control of her money. Nine months into financial coaching, Carrie tackled her goal of debt reduction. Carrie paid off her car loan and started paying off small debt, such as personal loans and credit cards.
Currently, 15 months into financial coaching, Carrie is debt free. She remains employed, continues to budget monthly, and has now begun to use the money she was putting towards debt into savings.
Since 2014, Ashley has helped close to 1,600 people with short-term and long-term financial coaching.
To learn more about the center, click
here or contact Darshana Shyamsunder, Director, Community Impact Initiatives, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4112. To learn how you can financially support the center, contact Doug Kaiser, Director of Resource Development, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4102.
New Data Available on ALICE
United Way of Pennsylvania recently released their ALICE in Pennsylvania: A Financial Hardship Study, showcasing updated data on the ALICE population. While conditions have improved for some households, many continue to struggle, especially as wages fail to keep pace with the cost of household essentials (housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a basic smartphone plan).
Although Chester County is the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, there is still a poverty rate of 7%. The real need in our community becomes clearer when we consider there is an additional 20% rate of ALICE households. Coupled with those under the poverty line, more than 1 in 4 of Chester County residents are unable to make ends meet. The biggest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the ALICE population.
ALICE (an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) are working families with income above the Federal Poverty Level, but not high enough to afford basic household necessities.
L.O.V.E. Is The Answer Virtual Town Hall with Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan and Filmmaker A.J. Ali
As part of the United Way of Chester County’s support of Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan’s Law Enforcement Task Force on Race & Justice efforts, we wanted to share with you this limited opportunity to participate in a Town Hall screening of the award-winning documentary film Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. Is the Answer, followed by a discussion with the film’s director and producer, A.J. Ali.
Please join us for this important Town Hall-style dialogue and help us learn how to improve relations between law enforcement and the community.
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021
TIME: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
To register, click here. Once you register, you will receive an email with the link to the Town Hall event. Space is limited – please register by February 23, 2021.