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Connecticut Individual Development Account Initiative (IDA)
IDA Newsletter - December, 2003

CTIDA is an e-mail newsletter containing news, information and more about Individual Development Account (IDA) Programs.  It is produced by CTE under the auspices of the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL).  To subscribe or unsubscribe, please send an e-mail to mhawe@ctecap.org.

December 7, 2003

Welcome to CTIDA, an e-mail newsletter about Individual Development Account Programs in Connecticut.  We hope that these communications will be a useful source of information to those at all levels of involvement in IDAs -- from the planning stage to experienced practitioners, including program providers, financial institutions and all partners in between -- and also serve as a way to publicize the successes of our state's IDA Programs.  We look for your input and feedback as to what will be useful to you as we continue to improve this newsletter to meet your needs.  For comments, questions or suggestions, contact Marie Hawe at CTE, 34 Woodland Ave., Stamford, CT 06902.  Phone: (203) 352-4851, Fax: (203) 352-2972, e-mail: mhawe@ctecap.org.

IN THIS ISSUE OF CTIDA:

  1. Spotlight on CAANH’S  IDA Program

  2. Success Story: Karen Samuels

  3. IRS Pilot EITC Certification Program

  4. IDA Program Directory Now Available On-Line

  5. You Load Sixteen Tons ...

  6. IDA  Affinity Group

  7. Mortgage Lender Standards

  8. Financial Ed and Asset-Specific Training Resources

  9. Thank You ... and Congratulations!

  10. Tell Us About Your Program and Your Successes


Spotlight on CAANH’S  IDA Program

The Community Action Agency of New Haven (CAANH) operates seven Programs through their Financial Services Asset Development Department, under the direction of Laura O’Keefe.  They have three IDA Programs (AFIA 2000, AFIA 2002, and the CT IDA Initiative funding that they are earmarking for youth education IDAs.)  They also run “Credit When Credit is Due” and “Get Checking” – both in collaboration with Consumer Credit Counseling Services, Fleet Bank and the Connecticut State Treasurer’s Office.  These two programs help people reestablish their credit and reconnect with the banking system.  CAANH also operates “Managing Your Future,” a youth program with an IDA match that is being expanded to a full-year program beginning in February and will include Junior Achievement curriculum.  Finally, CAANH operates the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program.

Congratulations to CAANH on their first asset purchase !  One of their participants purchased a home on November 10th.   Another participant is ready to purchase a home as soon as one becomes available through the Habitat for Humanity Program.  Two other participants are preparing for their small business asset purchases.  In addition, three more participants have reached their goal of $2,000, and 8 participants have $1,000 or more in their accounts.

According to Laura, “When we first started our IDA program we were targeting our existing programs and staff, but since then our focus has grown to include the entire Greater New Haven area.  Most of our participants now come from word of mouth referrals and articles that have appeared in our newsletter.”

Congratulations to CAANH and Laura on a great IDA Program!

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Success Story: Karen Samuels

The Connection, Inc. is a non-profit agency operating IDA Programs in Middletown, New Haven and Bridgeport.  Karen Samuels, one of their account holders, wrote this article for the newsletter.  Thanks, Karen, for sharing your story with us, and congratulations to you and to Amy Casey, The Connection’s IDA Program Coordinator.

“My name is Karen Samuels.  I am a client at Supportive   Housing Program (SHP).  I have been participating in the Individual Development Account (IDA) Program and now have saved about $2,000 of my own money, more than the required, which is $1,500.  I am now guaranteed the $3,000 match, plus the rest of my savings goes into an account at regular interest.  All this money I intend to use towards buying a house for myself and my son, Terry, who is almost two.  We are both very excited.  I am working on mentoring for the new IDA Program in Bridgeport and am happy to share my IDA experiences with the new clients.  I think the IDA is a great program.

How the IDA Program has helped me:

  •  It has helped me to go further in life and understand about savings and how to budget to get what I want.

  •  I get a lot of pleasure on seeing my money grow and looking forward to buying my home.

  •  I love the IDA lessons monthly, and am now continuing these lessons in Bridgeport and mentoring there.

I had started the program in New Haven and was pleased that I was able to continue the monthly meetings in Bridgeport.  It is much more convenient for me in Bridgeport.  I am thankful to Amy Casey, who conducted the IDA Program in New Haven very well and was always pleasant.  Now, I am happy to be part of Helen Lavin’s IDA Program in Bridgeport.  I am enjoying the meetings with Helen and Laura from Fleet and find the speakers and lessons educational.

I feel this program is a blessing and I am happy about learning more regarding home ownership and working on my goal to be a homeowner.

Can’t wait!!”

Karen Samuels 

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IRS Pilot EITC Certification Program

The Internal Revenue Service will launch its pilot Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) certification  program in 2004.  When filing season starts, 25,000 EITC claimants will be asked to certify that the children they claim on their tax returns reside with them for at least six months out of the year.  One or more of your IDA participants may receive a letter from the IRS informing them that they are part of the pilot.  For detailed information go to:  www.irs.gov.  Search for “EITC” and then click on the document entitled “IRS to Launch EITC Certification Pilot Program in 2004.”

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IDA Program Directory Now Available On-Line

For the first time, IDA information for programs across the country is located in one place at the IDA Program Directory.  The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), in partnership with CTE, produced the 2003 IDA Program Survey, which was distributed nationwide through the efforts of 10 national partners.  Three hundred and eight IDA programs responded to the survey.  Now this body of information is available via the new, online, searchable IDA Program Directory.  Users can search for specific IDA programs based on name, size, location or key program elements.  You can access the Directory by going to www.idanetwork.org.

Those Community Action Agencies (CAAs) who responded to the the 2003 IDA Program Survey answered additional questions especially geared to CAAs.  This information is not included in the on-line directory, but will be part of a report on CAAs and IDAs that is being prepared by CTE and will be available after the first of the year.

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You Load Sixteen Tons ...

... and what do you get?  Another day older and deeper in debt.  Saint Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go ... I owe my soul to the company store.”

If Merle Travis, who wrote that song in 1947, penned it today, chances are MasterCard or Visa would be substituted for “company store.” (from The Baltimore Sun).

A recent report by Demos, a New York-based research group (www.demos-usa.org/) documents the fact that more and more people are borrowing more and more money, often to fill the gap between what they earn and what they need to sustain life.

“During the 1990s, the average American family experienced a 53% increase in credit card debt….low-income families saw the largest increase – a 184% rise in their debt….Credit card debt is often dismissed as the consequence of frivolous consumption.  But an examination of broad structural and economic trends during the 1990s – including stagnant or declining real wages, job displacement, and rising health care and housing costs – suggests that many Americans are using credit cards as a way to fill a growing gap between household earnings and the costs of essential goods and services.  Usurious practices in the credit card industry, in the form of high rates and fees, have taken advantage of the increased need for credit.  As a result, a growing number of American families find themselves perpetually indebted to the credit card industry.” 1

“Borrowing to Make Ends Meet,” Demos, 2003.

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IDA  Affinity Group

The next meeting of the Connecticut IDA Affinity Group will be held on Wednesday, January 21, 2004, from 10:00 A.M. to noon at the United Way of Connecticut headquarters, 1344 Silas Deane Highway, Rocky Hill.  The principal agenda topic will be:  “Use of Section 8 for Home Ownership Opportunities in Connecticut.”  To R.S.V.P. or to be included on our mailing list for future Affinity Group meetings, please e-mail Arlene.Shannon@ctunitedway.org.  You can find directions to the United Way at www.ctunitedway.org.

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Mortgage Lender Standards

At the last CT IDA Affinity Group meeting, we had a discussion about the possibility of setting standards for home buying, mortgages, etc., that are stricter than those in the program requirements.  The issue arose because a participant in one of the programs was insistent that she wanted to use a sub-prime lender.  I raised this issue with Jim Gatz and Bob Zdenek of HHS.  Jim (Manager of the AFIA Program) asked us to send him a list of what standards we might be considering setting for home lenders.   If you have any thoughts/ideas/ suggestions, please e-mail them to me (mhawe@ctecap.org) or we can talk about this at the Affinity Group meeting in January.

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Financial Ed and Asset-Specific Training Resources

State Cooperative Extension Services often have valuable resources for Financial Education and Asset-Specific Training.  Here are some examples:

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. in Wiscasset, Maine, has developed an online tutorial financial education curriculum designed for IDA participants who are either too geographically remote or whose schedules don’t allow them to attend class.  To access this tutorial, to go http://www.ceimaine.org/tops/Tutorial/IDA_home.html.

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THANK YOU ...

... from Lisa Arends (DOL) and Elizabeth Hill (CAFCA) to all those agencies who responded in a timely manner to the requests for information from HHS for the AFIA Congressional Report. 

... to Fleet Bank for their continued financial support for the IDA Clearinghouse.

... to the Connecticut State Treasurer and her staff for their continued support.

and congratulations ... !

... to Carl Buzzelli on his appointment to DOL’s Welfare-to-Work Unit as the Manager of WIA and the Welfare-to-Work Administration.  Part of Carl’s new responsibilities will be oversight of the IDA Program.

... to the CT IDA website, that was recognized for its excellence throughcomments on the idanetwork listserv.

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Tell Us About Your Program and Your Successes

We would like to print a profile of your IDA Program and celebrate your Success Stories in future issues of CTIDA.  If you have a story to share, please e-mail it to Marie Hawe at mhawe@ctecap.org.

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The CTIDA e-newsletter is produced  by CTE under the auspices of the Connecticut Department of Labor.  To subscribe or unsubscribe, or to receive a printed version of this newsletter, please e-mail Marie Hawe at mhawe@ctecap.org.
 


Connecticut Individual Development Account Initiative (IDA)


200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT 06109 / Phone: 860-263-6000

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