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Connecticut Individual Development Account Initiative (IDA)
IDA Newsletter - June, 2004

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.

June 7, 2004

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 CRT’s IDA Program

  2. Assets for Independence (AFI) Funding Announcement

  3. CAAs and IDAs: A Natural Partnership

  4. IDA Learning Conference

  5. Financial Ed and Asset-Specific Training Resources

  6. Do's and Don'ts For Homeowners and Home Buyers

  7. IDA “Showdown!”

  8. A Special Thank You To ...

  9. Back Issues of CTIDA Newsletter on the CT DOL Website


SPOTLIGHT ON CRT’S IDA PROGRAM

Community Renewal Team (CRT), the Community Action Agency serving the Greater Hartford Area, has operated an IDA Program since 2000.  The IDA Program is operated by CRT’s HOME Center, providing a valuable resource for those IDA participants whose asset goal is the purchase of a first home.

The CRT HOME Center provides homeownership training for IDA participants and other first time homebuyers.  They also perform assessments for participants and refer them to needed services both at CRT and at other agencies in the Hartford area.  Once IDA participants purchase a home, the HOME Center can perform an energy audit on the home and help homeowners obtain small grants or low-interest loans for needed home repairs.

The HOME Center also works closely with the CRT Supportive Housing Program and Project TEACH, both of which help low-income families move out of shelters and into their own apartments.  According to Steve Gosselin, CRT’s IDA Director, “This collaboration fits in well with our IDA program goals, as it teaches families to be self-sufficient and gives them the skills to rise above poverty levels.”

To date, CRT has had 8 successful asset purchases (6 homes, 1 small business and 1 higher education).  They currently have 33 active accounts and 15 openings. Five of their current account holders have saved the maximum amount and are preparing for their asset purchase.  Since CRT’s program began, IDA participants have saved a total of $45,401.97, not including matching funds!

The CRT IDA Program is run by Steve Gosselin, IDA Program Manager.  Jim Pestana is the Director.  Keep up the good work, folks !!

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AFI FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT

The Office of Community Services (OCS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released its Request for Proposal for new funding under the Assets for Independence (AFI) IDA Demonstration Program.  According to the announcement,  “OCS seeks to support new and innovative AFI Projects administered by national, State-wide, regional and community-based organizations across the nation. The office is interested in supporting organizations that would establish first-time AFI Projects. OCS is also interested in providing financial support for organizations that are managing existing AFI Projects.” Proposals are due July 27, 2004.  The announcement can be accessed at:  http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/grants_ocs.html

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CAAs AND IDAs:  A NATURAL PARTNERSHIP

CTE, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has developed a document entitled:  Community Action Agencies and Individual Development Accounts:  A Natural Partnership.  It is a Technical Assistance Document for Community Action Agencies operating, or thinking about operating, Individual Development Account Programs.  Information in the document was gathered from an extensive survey of existing IDA programs that was conducted in 2003.  If you would like a copy of the document (in PDF format) please contact me (mhawe@ctecap.org) and I will e-mail you a copy.

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IDA LEARNING CONFERENCE

After a 2 ½-year hiatus, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) is holding a 2004 IDA Learning Conference.  The conference, entitled “Sharing Our Visions, Forging Our Paths,” will take place on Sept. 21-23 in New Orleans, LA.

The purpose of the conference is to convene leaders of the robust and evolving assets field to share their visions for helping millions of low-income people become asset holders over the next decade and to forge paths to make these visions a reality.

Workshop tracks will include Assets Policy, IDA Initiatives and Operations, New Technologies, Products and Markets, and Research and Evaluation.  Registration for the conference will begin within a few weeks.  In the meantime, you can keep updated about the conference by going to http://www.idanetwork.org or you can e-mail info@cfed.org with questions.

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FINANCIAL ED AND ASSET-SPECIFIC TRAINING RESOURCES

The Asset Development Institute (ADI) at Brandeis University and the Public and Community Affairs Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston have developed a 48-page booklet called Pathways to Getting Ahead.  It is intended for young adults (ages 17 to 30) to spur thinking about the importance of asset building in their personal lives.  The booklet provides valuable information about how young adults can advance along an asset-building path by saving and investing and avoiding financial pitfalls.

The booklet can be accessed at http://www.bos.frb.org/consumer/pathways/index.htm in PDF or HTML format.  To order a complementary hard copy of the booklet or a CD-ROM, contact the Publications Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Public and Community Affairs, P.O. Box 2076, Boston, MA 02106-2076.  Phone:  800-409-1333, or e-mail:  PublicComm.Affairs-Bos@bos.frb.org.

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DOs and DON’Ts FOR HOMEOWNERS AND HOME BUYERS

The following information was sent to us by Sharon Gowen of the Fannie Mae Corporation, who was a speaker at a recent CT IDA Affinity Group meeting.

DON'T

  • Don’t deal with door-to-door or telephone solicitors for home mortgage loans or home improvement contractors.

  • Don’t use a lender or contractor who will not provide a written contract specifying all costs.

  • Don’t deal with any unlicensed lenders or contractors.

  • Don’t sign any forms or papers with blank spaces or lines.

  • Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into signing anything.

  • Don’t believe anyone who says you have no other option.

  • Don’t accept a promise that isn’t in writing, no matter what.

DO

  • Make sure the lender and your contractor are licensed.

  • Check with the Banking Commission and the Department of Consumer Protection to see if any complaints have been filed against the lender or the contractor.   

  • Ask the contractor for references.

  • Shop around for the best offer for both a loan and the work to be done.

  • Keep careful records and get copies of everything; make sure the lender signs and dates all the paperwork.

  • Read all documents carefully and pay particular attention to interest rates, fees, points, terms and conditions.

  • Ask for any explanation of ANYTHING you don’t understand.

  • Ask the lender to provide you with a copy of the notice of Right to Cancel (sometimes called a Right of Rescission or Notice of Rescission) if you are refinancing your existing loan; read it and understand what to do if you change your mind about the loan.

  • Ask if you qualify for a less expensive loan before you accept a sub-prime product.

  • Be very wary of “debt consolidation” offers that roll credit card and medical bills into your home mortgage.

  • Make sure you can really afford to pay the loan, even if the lender says you quality for it – you are the only one who knows if you can comfortably make the payment (and remember the lender calculates on your GROSS income, but you must make your payments on your TAKE HOME PAY).

  • Make sure the contractor provides a start and completion date in writing as part of the contract.

  • And most importantly: Get pre-loan counseling and/or education from a reputable non-profit counseling agency !

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IDA  “SHOWDOWN!”

All IDA Programs want to keep participants motivated.  Here’s one way that Amy Casey, IDA Program Manager at The Connection, Inc. in Middletown, does it.  Amy has instituted an IDA “Showdown” – it works like this:

Participants in the IDA Program accumulate points for attending program events and performing “extra credit” activities.  For example,

  • Attendance at each monthly Savings Club earns a participant 10 points.

  • When a participant deposits the contracted amount in their IDA, they earn 10 points each month.

  • Financial-related trivia questions that Amy hands out at each meeting earn 5 points if answered correctly.

  • Completion of a word scramble handed out at each meeting earns 1 point.

  • Each time a participant brings in an article related to finance they earn 2 points.

  • Special events and holidays are the opportunity to earn extra points. (For instance, each participant who shared a story at the November meeting about something they were thankful for earned 6 points.)

Amy keeps track of each participant’s score and at the end of each 3-month period she awards a prize to the participant with the most points.  Prizes usually are a finance-related item such as a Suze Orman book or video or some other resource on finances or homeownership.

 

According to Amy, "With the inception of the IDA Showdown, I have seen increased attendance and motivation by participants who realize that by involving themselves and staying in touch with the program, they not only learn more but have the opportunity to earn a great prize as well!”

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A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO ...

Jim Horan (CAHS), Madeline McClave (United Way of Connecticut), Phil McKain (CAFCA), Carol Heller (Fleet/BOA), the State Treasurer's Office, the Connecticut Department of Labor, and all IDA Programs and friends who worked to help get a $250,000 appropriation for the Connecticut IDA Program passed in the General Assembly.  A special thank you to the State Legislators from both parties who supported the appropriation.

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BACK ISSUES OF CT IDA NEWSLETTER ON THE CT DOL WEBSITE

Back issues of the CT IDA Newsletters can be found at the E-Newsletters link on the Individual Development Accounts section of the CTDOL web site.

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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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