Wednesday, March 18, 2009

City of Miami Announces New FREE Connection to Federal Benefits

Today, Florida Department of Children & Families Secretary George Sheldon and I announced that the City of Miami is the first city in Florida to offer a new and FREE service to its residents in order to simplify the application and qualification for Federal benefits.
The City of Miami is the first to offer the Direct Connect to the Department of Children and Families’ state system to expedite the application and qualification for benefits and delivery of services to those who are eligible through the Benefit Bank.
This program gives eligible residents access to benefits at a time when they need it most, which will help them take care of their families and become self-sufficient. It is often hard for people to access these benefits, and in Florida alone, more than $2 billion each year does not reach our people. The Benefit Bank will make it possible for our residents to access all of these benefits in just one step.
The Benefit Bank is an internet-based platform designed to help low/moderate income families get the tax credits, health care, food and other benefits that have been created to help them lift themselves out of poverty. Programs include Food Stamps, children’s health insurance, Medicaid, federal income tax preparation, and free application for federal student assistance (FAFSA), and voter registration, among others.
This access to benefits is more important now than ever. These are difficult times for everyone. The number of people that are losing their jobs, their homes, and their healthcare coverage grows every day.
And now, due to President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance will be made available to qualifying residents in our community.
For example, a single parent of two earning $15,000 a year can have access to $4,824 in Earned Income Credit, $453 additional Child Tax Credit, $3,089 in Children’s Health Insurance, $3,469 in food Stamps, and $200 in Los Income Home Energy Assistance, for a total of $12,030 in additional income.
The Benefit Bank is available at the City of Miami’s 13 NET offices and is made possible by Solutions for Progress.
ACCESS Miami, Mayor Diaz’s anti‐poverty strategy, has and continues to successfully empower City of Miami residents and small business entrepreneurs by tackling four cornerstones: access to existing benefits, access to capital, wealth and accumulation of assets, and financial literacy. The program has received national recognition, with grants and awards from the Council for the New American City, the Mayors Business Council at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National City Livability Award.

To find the closest NET office or to obtain more information on the Benefit Bank services, please visit or call 311.
- Manny