An Individual Development Account (IDA) is a limited matched savings program that helps low- to moderate-income individuals and families achieve personal success through incentivized savings for certain goals. The most commonly approved goals are buying a home, repairing an existing home, attending an institution of higher education and opening a small business. Eligible participants who save money are rewarded with matched funds, usually on a 1:1 or 2:1 basis. In addition, participants receive important financial education and learn long-term money management skills.
Sarasota, Florida’s first local IDA success story involves George and Stefanie Cates, a Sarasota couple who credit the program with helping them reach their dreams of becoming homeowners. With five children and both parents working two jobs, the Cates family struggled to save for a new home. They were forced to move several times when the properties they rented fell into foreclosure or went into short sale. In addition to the stress and inconvenience, they experienced a few thousand dollars in relocation expenses each time this occurred.
Stefanie contacted Clearpoint, a United Way Suncoast partner, to help build their credit score in order to qualify for a mortgage. Clearpoint guided the family towards their financial goals and provided case management* for the IDA program, paving the way for home-ownership. The Cates also increased their knowledge though Clearpoint’s homebuyer workshop, a requirement to complete the IDA program.
Clearpoint counselor Juan Menendez met with George and Stefanie for about a year, first creating and then reviewing the family’s budget each month while periodically monitoring the credit reports to ensure they were on track. Within a year, the couple had increased their credit scores by nearly 100 points, enough to qualify for a mortgage. Thanks to the IDA matched savings funds, they also had $12,000 for down payment on a home they purchased in October of 2015. Stefanie explains why this was such a big moment for her family:
It’s so empowering to know that it’s your home and that you’ll have something to leave behind for your children. We are now able to build memories and provide stability for our kids.
To find out if an IDA is available in your area, visit this directory, or contact your local United Way 2-1-1. And whether your goal is home ownership or simply improving your financial situation, be sure to check out Clearpoint’s services, which may be able to help.
*Clearpoint’s case management services are possible through generous support from Third Federal Savings and Loan.