News

Rent-to-Own Centers Face Legislative Regulation to Protect Consumers

In the News….

Imagine paying an interest rate of 300% or higher on your bed, kitchen table, or TV. Sounds far-fetched, but that is exactly the kind of deal on offer at Rent-to-Own businesses. Due to a loophole in current law, their customers pay a huge premium on large ticket items that might not even be new, as many of the items rented have been repossessed from previous customers. Consumers aren’t shown the actual ultimate cost of the rent-to-own deal they are agreeing to, and fall prey to deceptive marketing practices. Most rent-to-own clientele are people with lower incomes—an estimated 72% of them earn less than $36,000/year. These consumers often don’t have the money to purchase products outright, and may not have good credit, so they have little option but to turn to rent-to-own dealers. And because of the high installment payments and quick repossessions if they fall behind, only about 25% of these customers ever end up actually owning the items they paid such an outrageously high price for.

SEVCA’s staff have seen the impact of rent-to-own deals on countless clients over the years. High installment payments are often a factor in creating a financial crisis for the household that impacts their ability to meet their basic food, housing, and fuel expenses. So SEVCA has joined with other advocates in support of bi-partisan legislation recently introduced in the state Senate to crack down on the industry’s deceptive and exploitative practices. The legislation would limit the effective interest rate charged on these installment purchases and require certain disclosures and consumer protections that it is hoped would make the industry operate on a much fairer, above-board basis. Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, of which SEVCA is a member, is just one of the many organizations that have endorsed the legislation. (Click HERE to read their statement.)

See the following news article for more information, or call Family Services Director Pat Burke at (802) 722-4575 with questions.

http://vtdigger.org/2015/02/19/shumlin-joins-lawmakers-advocates-push-rent-regulations/

Posted March, 2015

It’s Tax Season! SEVCA Can Help

File Your Taxes for FREE through SEVCA’s VITA Program.

The IRS has estimated that 4 million U.S. residents each year fail to claim tax credits they qualify for, forfeiting nearly $3 billion in tax credits and refunds. Tax benefits like the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) help eligible working families afford better housing, dependable transportation,and quality child care, and pursue further education and training, thus contributing to their long-term financial stability. In addition, they benefit the local economy.

Help SEVCA spread the word about the free tax preparation services we will provide to qualified low- and moderate-income households through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program between February 2 and April 13. Call SEVCA if you or someone you know:

  •  Is unsure of the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act and needs a little extra help to make sure their return is accurate this year
  • Wants to make sure to claim all tax credits they are eligible for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit
  • Wants to save the $100-$300 they would usually pay a tax preparer to file their taxes

In 2015, SEVCA’s VITA program assisted over 300 tax filers, who received federal and state refunds amounting to over $400,000, including Earned Income Credits worth more than $215,000. This year, we have 20 experienced volunteer tax preparers, who have undergone extensive training in current tax regulations, including those related to the Affordable Care Act. Each return will be reviewed for accuracy by a certified volunteer. Free tax assistance is available by appointment only at the following locations:

  • SEVCA’s main office in Westminster on Thursdays (daytime appointments)
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in White River Junction on Tuesdays (day and early evening appointments available)
  • Windsor Resource Connection Center (Windsor) on alternate Wednesdays

SEVCA is proud to partner again this year with Granite United Way to offer the VITA program to residents in the Upper Valley (White River Junction and Windsor). This year, you can schedule your own appointment at these sites by using the online registration process HERE. After January 19, you can also make an appointment by phone at these locations by calling 866-444-4211. Appointments can be scheduled at the Westminster location by phone only; please call 800-464-9951, beginning immediately.

17th Annual "Chipping Away at Poverty" Golf Tournament

PromoForWebsite

View our Brochure and Sponsorship Form for information on how to register a team or sponsor a hole or other high-profile tournament activity such as the Putting Contest or the Air Cannon Contest. 

We are excited to welcome Goodwater Brewery, which will be holding a free beer tasting at this year’s tournament.  Find out more about them here: http://www.goodwaterbreweryvt.com/

THANK YOU to our 2018 Sponsors & Company Teams: 

Reginald and Emily Abare
Burtco
Brattleboro Country Club
Clay Point Associates
Clark's Quality Foods
Dillon Chevrolet
EFI
Farnum Insulators
IPG Employee Benefits Specialists
Kinney Pike Insurance
Lamb and McNaughton, Attorneys
Leone, McDonnell & Roberts
Magee Office Products
Mutual of America (Co-Sponsor)
Newcomb's Masonry
Northern Safety & Industrial
Northeast Delta Dental
Omega Optical
Pay Data Workforce Solutions
People's United Bank
Sandri Energy
Savings Bank of Walpole
Simon Operation Services
Springfield Housing Authority/Westview Terrace and Mountainview Apartments (Sponsor)
Stewart Property Management
Streeter, LLC
Subaru of Keene
Sunset Tool, Inc. (Co-Sponsor)
Westminster Auto Service
The Windham Foundation
WW Building Supply

In-kind gifts from:

Crown Point Country Club
Okemo Country Club
Vermont Country Deli
Walmart

Click HERE for highlights of our 2017 tournament.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead