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State program offers $3-for-$1 incentive to save

Nonprofit's classes are the first step toward free money for Clackamas County residents

If someone told you that many Clackamas County residents qualify to have the state of Oregon give them $3 for every $1 they put in their savings account, you’d probably think it was a scam.

Well, it’s not a scam, but unfortunately, most people don’t know about Oregon’s Individual Development Account (IDA) initiative, said Karin Butler, a financial counselor for the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO).

NEDCO is an Oregon City-based nonprofit agency that focuses on foreclosure intervention. It now offers classes on personal-finance management and potentially qualifying for an IDA. Oregon state officials allocated $525,000 for funding the IDA initiative during the current fiscal year.

Family income must be at or below 80 percent of the median for Clackamas County to qualify for an IDA. For a four-person household, that’s $55,500 annually.

IDAs may be used to help someone with lower-than-average income save for a home, save to buy a car (if needed to get to work) or save for their own post-secondary education or training. An individual may save up to $1,000 a year and have that matched with another $3,000. At the end of three years, which is the maximum time for the program, an individual could have $12,000.

Several different types of people tend to qualify for the program, Butler said. Someone in the lower-middle class who’s motivated to buy a house can sometimes get help with closing costs and keep their mortgage payments down through this program. Disabled people who need “adaptive technology” for their work can make money through the program. Someone with an old car can put aside money for a newer car in order to be ready when the old car dies.

Education financing is the newest program for NEDCO. People can save for planned educational spending starting as young as 16.

“There are a lot of possibilities,” Butler said. “Of course, there are restrictions on income and assets as well as how much a person can save. But for those who qualify, it can change their life.”

The first step toward qualifying for an IDA is to take a Financial Foundations money-management class that’s designed to help people learn how to better handle their finances; the next class is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31. The class costs $40, includes a light lunch and is held at Clackamas Fire Station #5, 9339 S.E. Causey Ave. Saturday classes are also scheduled for March 28, May 30, July 25 and Sept. 26.

For more information, call 503-655-8974. People are also welcome to stop by the NEDCO office, 421 High St. Suite 110, Oregon City.

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