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Connecticut Individual Development Account Initiative (IDA)
IDA Newsletter - January 2006

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.

January 9, 2006

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. Housing Trust Fund

  2. Reports, Reports, Reports

  3. Financial Education Resources

  4. Tax Preparation Materials

  5. Other Resources

  6. Funding Opportunities

  7. Assets Learning Conference

  8. IDA Success Story

  9. IDA Q and A 

HOUSING TRUST FUND

Acting on a proposal by Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier, last session the State Legislature passed a bill authorizing the establishment of a Housing Trust Fund.   Up to $20 million per year in state general obligation bonds will be sold for up to a total of $100 million to support the Fund.  The Housing Trust Fund program will provide gap financing, grants, loan guarantees and low- and no-interest loans to increase housing stock for Connecticut’s low-income residents.  In addition,  $300,000 per year will be set aside to fund housing IDAs.

The Housing Trust Fund will be administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).  The IDA component will be administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor.  Regulations are in the process of being drafted.  We will keep you updated on information about the Housing Trust Fund IDA program as soon as it becomes available.

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REPORTS, REPORTS, REPORTS

Thank you to the IDA program operators who have spent many hours this fall preparing reports for both the federally-funded (Assets for Independence) and the CT IDA Initiative programs.   Thanks to all of you for your efforts ! 

Here is a small sampling of the data that have been collected: 

CT IDA Program: During the recently-ended program year, the 35 active participants in the CT IDA Initiative Program deposited a total of $16,680 into their IDAs, earning $24,739 in matching funds. 7 participants purchased an asset this past year. 

DOL Assets for Independence (AFI) Programs:  The Connecticut Department of Labor operates 4 federally-funded AFI IDA programs.  Three of these are co-administered by CAFCA, the Connecticut Association for Community Action, and operated by Community Action Agencies throughout the state.  The other DOL AFI program is operated by The Connection, Inc., a non-profit agency based in Middletown.  As of September 30, 2005: 

  • 415 participants have opened IDAs
  • $323,631 in savings has been deposited by participants into their IDAs
  • 82 assets have been purchased (First home – 44; Post-Secondary Education – 16;  Small Business – 22)

This information on the AFI programs has been sent to Washington to be included in the annual Report to Congress.  You can read a compilation of previous years’ Reports to Congress on the HHS website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/assetbuilding/research.html

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FINANCIAL EDUCATION RESOURCES

MoneyWi$e is a financial education curriculum developed by Consumer Action and Capital One.  Materials available include participant information brochures, leaders’ guides, power point slides and lesson plans on each module topic.  Modules include Banking, Elder Scams, Credit, Micro Business, Managing Your Money, Rebuilding Good Credit, Saving and Talking to Teens About Money.  For more information, go to www.money-wise.org.

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TAX PREPARATION MATERIALS

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 2006 “Make Tax Time Pay!” Tax Credit Community Outreach Kit is now available.  The kit provides tools and information to help organizations in their Earned Income Credit and Child Tax Credit outreach activities.  An organization can request one kit free of charge; for bulk quantities there is a $3.00 per kit charge.  To order, contact the Center at:  eickit@cbpp.org or call 202-408-1080.

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OTHER RESOURCES

  1. IRS forms and publications as well as other information and resources for the upcoming tax season can be found at:  http://www.irs.gov/index.html
     
  2. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has published a helpful paper on Individual Development Accounts that explains IDA Programs and the opportunities they present to financial institutions.  This is a document that can be shared with your financial institution partners.  You can find it at:  http://www.occ.treas.gov/ftp/release/2005-25a.pdf.

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FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

The Office of Community Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a standing Request for Proposals for the Assets for Independence (AFI) Program.  AFI provides grants of up to $1,000,000 to non-profits and government agencies that provide financial education to clients and assist them with saving money in IDAs for the purpose of acquiring one of three long-term assets (a first home, post-secondary education, or a small business).  Applicants are required to raise non-Federal matching funds, in an amount equal to or greater than the amount of the grant. 

The AFI grant review will be conducted three times a year:  March 15, June 15 and November 1.  Grants will be awarded throughout the year.  Following are several useful links for those planning to apply for AFI funding. 

For more information, contact the Office of Community Services, Assets for Independence Program, at 202-401-4626 or e-mail afiprogram@acf.hhs.gov

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2006 ASSETS LEARNING CONFERENCE

The Corporation For Enterprise Development (CFED) has announced that its 2006 Assets Learning Conference will be held from September 19-21, 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona.  This conference (formerly called the IDA Learning Conference) has been renamed to recognize the expanding scope of the field.  Over 900 participants are expected to attend.  For more information, go to www.cfed.org.    

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IDA SUCCESS STORY

Merlette H. was a participant in the IDA Program operated by CRT, Hartford’s Community Action Agency.  Merlette joined the IDA Program in January 2002 with the goal of purchasing a home for herself and her 2 daughters.  Being a single mom, it was not always easy for her to keep up with her savings goal, but she persevered.  A smart budgeter, she took advantage of as many of CRT’s programs as she could in order to help her cut households costs and save as much as she could.  Three years later, Merlette found a beautiful two-family home in East Hartford.  She qualified for a mortgage and, in September 2005, achieved her dream of becoming a homeowner !  Merlette is happy to share her success story and is an inspiration to others still saving for their first home.  “Merlette came to our December IDA Savings Club Holiday Party and spoke to the IDA participants about the home buying process and how the program worked for her,” said Steve Gosselin, Director of CRT’s IDA Program and the Homeownership Center.  Merlette’s dream is now a reality for her and her daughters. “We spend every evening with paint rollers or shovels or scrub brushes in our hands,” she said.  “But we’re so happy!” 

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IDA Q AND A

What qualifies as “income” for the IDA program?
There are two kinds of income that have implications for your IDA program.  One kind is the household income upon which program eligibility is based.  Generally, for this purpose, income includes the following:
  • Wages and salaries before any deductions.

  • Net receipts from self-employment (receipts from one’s own business after deductions for business expenses).

  • Regular payment from the Social Security Administration (gross benefits), railroad retirement, unemployment compensation, strike benefits from union funds, worker’s compensation, veteran’s payments, public assistance (including TANF, SSI and SSDI), training stipends, alimony, child support, and military family allotments.

  • Private pensions, government employee pensions (including military retirement pay), regular insurance or annuity payments.

  • Dividends, interest, net rental income, net royalties, periodic receipts from estates or trusts, and net gambling or lottery winnings.

  • Payments to Native Americans from gaming revenues (e.g., casino profit sharing).

When determining program eligibility, do not include the following:

  • Capital gains.

  • Any withdrawal from a bank; the sale of property, a house or a car.

  • Tax refunds, gifts, loans, lump sum inheritances or one-time insurance payments.

  • Non-case benefits such as employer-paid or union-paid portion of health insurance or other employee fringe benefits, food or housing received in lieu of wages, and federal non-cash benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches, housing and other emergency assistance.

  • Any portion of Social Security benefits deducted to pay Medicare premiums that will not be reimbursed.

The other  kind of income is earned income.  Earned income is what IDA account holders save in their IDA.  Earned income is generated by the household, through one or more of the following means:

  • Formal employment (with a paycheck, W-2, etc.) including, but not limited to, wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses and tips.

  • Informal employment (e.g., someone provides childcare for their neighbors on a regular basis and receives cash payments).

  • Self-employment (selling cosmetics, gift baskets, cleaning houses, etc.).

  • Contractual agreements.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit refunds.

NOTE:  The above answer pertains only to the issue of “income.”  Some IDA programs have an additional asset test that potential participants must pass in order to be eligible for the program.

Thanks to Susan Lindson of the Michigan IDA  Partnership for portions of the above information.

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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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