Independent Evaluation Concludes Oregon Program Paves Pathways Out of Poverty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Janet Byrd, Neighborhood Partnerships
503-226-3001 x 103

Lisa Joyce, Oregon Housing and Community Services
503-986-0951

Dr. Diane Yatchmenoff, Portland State University
503-725-4158

Independent Evaluation Concludes
Oregon Program Paves Pathways Out of Poverty

(Salem) In a new, independent evaluation, Portland State University’s Regional Research Institute concludes that the Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative is a highly effective way to aid Oregon families challenged by poverty. It helps them learn how to budget and save; establish a stronger, more stable financial footing; and ultimately, purchase a major asset that improves their lives – a home, business, or an education.

“Oregon’s IDA Initiative is recognized as one of the strongest in the nation. It reflects the state’s commitment to increasing financial resilience among low-income residents,” says Dr. Diane Yatchmenoff, lead evaluator for the new research. “We found significant, positive financial behavioral changes, including increased use of budgets and savings.”

More than 1,600 Oregonians have made – and met – their savings goals through participation in the Oregon IDA Initiative. Even in this time of prolonged economic hardship for the state, the majority of participants have been successful in saving for and achieving specific purchases: a small business, a house, a college degree.

Constance Hammons of Douglas County bought a home through the Oregon IDA program and Umpqua Community Development Corporation. “I wanted a better life, but I lacked the skills to escape the helplessness I felt at the first of the month as I struggled to stretch the money,” she says. “When I enrolled in Oregon’s IDA Initiative, my life changed in amazing ways. I learned how to handle my money. I now have no debt whatsoever, my credit score is higher and I just bought a brand new home. The IDA initiative provided the tools I needed to find my way out of the hopelessness of poverty.”

Launched in 1999 by the Oregon Legislature, the Oregon IDA Initiative is an important commitment by the state to develop more jobs, as well as give Oregonians the tools and encouragement to enjoy better lives and greater financial security.

“We envisioned creating a pathway of opportunity,” says Victor Merced, director of Oregon Housing and Community Services. “We sought a means to effectively support low-wealth, hard-working families and individuals to break cycles of unemployment, intergenerational poverty and financial hardship.”

The Oregon IDA Initiative is funded by private contributions, for which donors can receive a 75 percent tax credit in Oregon. More than 95 percent of donations go directly to participants.

The program is operated by Neighborhood Partnerships. Executive Director Janet Byrd calls it “a productive partnership” between Neighborhood Partnerships, capable Oregon nonprofits, generous contributors, program participants, and the State of Oregon.

“We want to recognize our shared success in the results to date, and to thank the many partners who make this program and its contributions to Oregon’s vitality possible,” adds Byrd.

Prospective donors have until December 31 to take advantage of this important tax credit for 2010 – and to do well, by doing good. More information on the Oregon IDA Initiative and the tax credit can be found online, at http://ida.neighborhoodpartnerships.org.

To download a version of Portland State’s evaluation report, also visit http://ida.neighborhoodpartnerships.org.

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