The Lakes Region's refugees home buying Individual Development Account project

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Southern New Hampshire University
The Lakes Region's Refugees IDA Project developed a mentoring and asset building program designed for refugees and immigrants living in our community. It is designed to help them assimilate American financial systems such as banking and credit. This is accomplished by working with an English speaking volunteer and another who speaks their language, enabling them to develop personal financial skills as well as trust. We offer an Individual Development Account (IDA). The participants' savings are matched with grant dollars raised in the IDA statewide initiative. Participants are accepted from the refugee and immigrant population resettled in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire (US). Participants save for home purchase, and while doing so receive individual counseling with their same-language mentor, the English-speaking community volunteers, and project director. Participants receive group training on the specifics of home buying and financial literacy (of American systems) through the Homeownership Center of a local non-profit agency working on affordable housing, the Laconia Area Community Land Trust. We evaluated the success of this project by determining the asset accumulation of participants each year; completing their IDA saving plan by purchasing a home and also by ongoing participation and savings rate. We evaluated the ongoing support level that participants in the project give back, by mentoring others as they enter the project. (Author abstract)