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Oregon IDA: Helping Oregonians Help Themselves

December 14, 2010

RICHLAND, Ore. - About ten years ago, the Oregon Legislature created a program to help people help themselves, financially. Yesterday, we mentioned new research about the effectiveness of the Oregon Individual Development Account Initiative, the nonprofit program that has helped more than 1,600 Oregonians turn around their financial futures.

Today, we introduce you to people who have taken part in the program. It requires them to attend financial fitness classes, stick to a budget and save for a major goal or asset.

For the Colnot family in Richland, the Oregon IDA allowed them to do some planning to help keep their small business afloat - literally. They rent and repair boats, and were in desperate need of a new truck. Now they have it, and Danielle Colnot says they got much more out of the program.

"It just kind of instills how to budget and how to save, teaches you those basic steps that I think a lot of people are lacking. We're still using what she has taught us, to this very day."

For Mykeia Martin in Portland, the dream was to buy a house, and she has achieved it. She says the classes on personal finance and home ownership taught her that budgeting is about a lot more than money.

"What's, actually, really important to you: is having cable important to you? Or is having dinner out five times a week important to you? Or is being out of debt important, and being able to save a little bit?"

The Oregon IDA is open to lower-income Oregonians. The program matches the dollars saved by the participants, three to one, but only if they meet their savings goal, and the money can only be used toward that goal. Administrators hope to expand the program, and for that they need donations. In return, individual donors receive a 75 percent state tax credit.

More information is available at ida.neighborhoodpartnerships.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR