SOUTH COUNTY — United Way Monterey County is wrapping up its free tax preparation season and reminds residents that the nonprofit organization provides resources for local families to build financial stability.
“The most pressing need in our community is really around financial stability,” said Katy Castagna, president/CEO of United Way Monterey County. “We know that the high cost of living and the level of wages and employment here make it very difficult for people financially.”
Castagna said the key factors around the cost of living, wages and employment is housing and access to affordable housing.
Monterey County residents also face challenges with the cost of high-quality child care, which can sometimes be as much as housing costs, according to Castagna.
“We know there’s not enough child care available in our community that’s affordable to the people who need it,” she said.
United Way is also focusing on a third area in financial stability as asset building. Asset building includes ensuring residents have access to financial benefits and support, helping them build their employment opportunities and learning to manage their money better.
“We’ve got programs on a variety of levels in all of these areas,” Castagna said. “We are just finishing up our VITA free tax prep season and we’re really pleased to have partnered with the CET in Soledad.”
Over the past few weeks, United Way’s trained volunteers have provided free tax preparation for community members who earn $54,000 or less.
“What we learned a long time ago is no matter how wonderful programs and services are, if people don’t know about them they’re not going to be able to receive the help,” Castagna said. “In 2009, we launched 2-1-1 for Monterey County.”
2-1-1 is a national program and provides access to local resources.
United Way Monterey County is located at 60 Garden Court, Suite 350, in Monterey, and can be contacted at 831-372-8026.