Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) help low income Oregonians build greater financial security by matching monthly savings toward the purchase of an asset. The assets purchased – such as a first home, a post-secondary education, or a small business – help build financial stability and enter the economic mainstream. In addition to offering incentives, the Oregon IDA program supports participants in building new skills and habits as well as consumer savvy by requiring them to take financial education along with asset-specific classes like “Home Buying 101.”
Cheryl Lohrmann is one of many successfully Oregon IDA program graduates. In 2005 Cheryl took the Home Buying 101 class at the Portland Housing Center and learned about the steps she needed to take to purchase a home. She also took a Financial Fitness course and met with a home ownership counselor. She began putting money in a savings account every month. In 2006 Cheryl enrolled in the Oregon IDA program, after which her savings were matched 3 to 1. After three years of saving, Cheryl moved into her new home this fall! She reports continuing the habit of setting aside money in a savings account each month.
Cheryl’s story – and the stories of 1,000 plus graduates just like her – demonstratives the effectiveness of Oregon’s IDA program. Preliminary results of multi-year evaluation being conducted by Portland State University (PSU) confirm this. PSU’s evaluation has found that among Oregon IDA graduates overall satisfaction with their financial status increased from 44% at enrollment to 78% at graduation, while the number who keep up a habit of budgeting grew from 31% at enrollment to 68% at graduation.