Oregon IDA InitiativeOregon IDA Initiative

Jul
2

Things Are Looking Good for IDAs This Session

thumb-247142_1280

Update: With 45 Ayes the omnibus tax credits bill passed the house. On to the Senate!

The picture for the Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative looks promising as we approach the closing of the 2015 Legislative Session. But we’re not out of the woods yet, so keep your party hats and balloons stowed away for now.

Yesterday, after ongoing negotiations, the Joint Committee on Tax Credits passed the omnibus tax credits bill that houses the tax credit that funds the IDA (HB 2171 -6), with a do pass recommendation, and with no objections.

The bill is scheduled for a House floor session today. However, continued negotiations make the complete schedule unpredictable.

The current bill version renews the IDA with a slight funding increase and includes the additional savings categories we were hoping for.

More to come this week. We’ll share the news as soon as we have it. Until then, keep refreshing those email inboxes and Facebook feeds.

Jun
8

Love Letter to the People of the Oregon IDA Initiative

letter-447577_1280

Dear IDA Initiative supporters,

In the past few weeks we have asked you to write letters to your legislators about the importance of IDAs. Thank you so, so much for doing this and please keep those letters coming.

As I’ve been reading your letters, I realized I had a letter of my own to write, to all of you. And yes, it is a love letter.

On Wednesday we had our final Assets Opportunity Day of the 2015 legislative session. It was the perfect representation of what the Oregon IDA Initiative has come to mean to me. Jess Junke, Director of Economic Opportunity at Neighborhood Partnerships, started us off by asking each person in the room to say something about the lasting impact of IDAs.

Amber Starks, who used an IDA to start her small business, shared that IDAs bring hope to communities who have been systematically taught not to hope. Tenzin Sangpo, a student whose IDA made it possible for him to attend Mt Hood Community College and then transfer to Reed College, spoke about IDAs allowing students to live without fear, the fear of debt or having to quit school because of cost. Laina Green, IDA Program Coordinator at Neighborhood Partnerships, told a story about a saver who used an IDA to purchase a home that now serves as a community space. Laina explained that IDAs can be resources for whole communities, not just the savers who participate.

I don’t know of a single other resource that can do all of these things quite so well:  bring hope, end fear, and transform individuals and communities simultaneously. In the few short months I’ve had this job, I have been pinching myself every day because I feel so lucky that I get to do work to make this incredible resource available to more Oregonians. It is an honor to do this work alongside all of you.

The legislature still has a lot of its own work to do before it wraps up. Our presence in Salem on Wednesday served to keep IDAs top-of-mind for our decision makers. At this point, our IDA bill has been rolled into the tax credit omnibus bill, HB 2093. Our request is the same:  renewal, expansion, and an increase in funding for IDAs. We need to keep reminding our legislators to prioritize the IDA.

Thanks again for all of your amazing work.

Love,
Jill

P.S.: The IDA still needs your letters of support. Please send this link to your colleagues and ask them to write a letter to their legislator.

P.P.S. Check out some photos from Assets Opportunity Day here.

 

Jill Winsor is the Engagement and Development Coordinator for Neighborhood Partnerships.

May
7

3 Key Lessons from the State of Black Oregon Report

2014 IDA video contest winner, Ime Etuk, was featured in the State of Black Oregon report. 

 

On Tuesday, the State of Black Oregon 2015 report was released. The Oregon IDA Initiative was a point of inspiration in a very sobering report.

Jessica Junke, Neighborhood Partnerships’ Director of Economic Opportunity was in attendance. She noted:

A few different speakers referred to the broad consequences of uprooting families from their communities – that those impacts are felt not only on the housing end, but also in the arenas of public health, education, criminal justice, and others.  It was a reminder that our work in building lasting pathways to economic stability is not just about asset building or securing affordable housing – it is also about healthy communities, stable families, education, civic engagement and so much more.

Here are 3 key highlights from the report:

1)   Financial literacy is critical

Individual Development Account (IDA) programs have been proven to increase financial literacy and wellbeing for individuals with low incomes.  However, there are certain considerations to keep in mind with financial literacy programs:

  • provide extra support to minorities and people who have employment difficulties
  • educate participants on the benefits of investment accounts
  • stress the importance of future life events, such as buying a home or college costs
  • foster skills that help in coping with situations of limited resources
  • encourage participants to pursue/explore the possibility of formal education

As the report said: “IDA program outcomes demonstrate that increasing financial literacy is critical to long-term wealth creation in the Black community.”

2)   IDAs help take businesses to the next level

Ime Etuk, an IDA participant through MESO and the winner of the 2014 IDA video contest, was a featured case study. Ime owns his own production company, Laugh Cry Love Entertainment. According to the case study:

Ime began Laugh Cry Love to provide small businesses with affordable, high-quality video production. In order to make his company sustainable, he began attending meetings of the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs. In his search for entrepreneurial resources, he came across Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO). This program helped Ime with marketing research, networking opportunities and one-on-one counseling. From the outset, the close-knit atmosphere of the MESO office impressed him. “They had everything you needed at one place. It was just such a small supportive family feel. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of and could benefit from.”

Ime is a great example of what IDAs can do. Thousands of entrepreneurs throughout Oregon have had a dream to better their lives and the lives of those around them. The combination of financial education and matched savings is the perfect prescription for making those dreams come true.

 3) We have the policy tools

The State of Black Oregon listed the following as its second policy priority:

Invest in public and private sector initiatives that encourage Black community financial literacy, savings and investments, and provide a range of public options to enable saving and retirement security, including:

– Children’s Savings Accounts

– Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)

– Consumer-oriented credit-building tools

– Employment match programs

– Modernized retirement savings vehicles

Neighborhood Partnerships shares these priorities, and we look forward to working with the Urban League and others to realize them in 2015 and in the 2017 session.