from the New Mexico News Connection - A statewide news service for New Mexico
Albuquerque - There were bright spots in a sour economy for some New Mexico households during 2010... especially for those who opened something called an "Individual Development Account," referred to as an IDA.
Economic times are still tough, but many households and small businesses in New Mexico will look back on 2010 as a time when saving as little as a thousand dollars helped start a new chapter in life. Tamara Key was making near minimum wage at her child care job and never dreamed she'd be able to own her own home... then she signed up for an Individual Development Account through the New Mexico non-profit Prosperity Works. The program matched her thousand dollars in savings four-to-one, "I never even thought I would ever own a home, I thought that was a distant dream that would happen to somebody else but it would never happen to me. And now I'm in a three-bedroom."
Qualifying New Mexicans can open an IDA to start saving for an asset that grows in value, like a down payment on a house, a business or higher education. Key now has a new job helping homeless families at Cuidando Los Niños. It pays better and she's hoping some of the families she works with will be able to open their own IDAs in the future.
Over the last five years, around five hundred New Mexico families have had their savings matched through an IDA and they aren't the only ones who benefit. The program is estimated to have created over 330 jobs and 2.2 million dollars in economic benefit to local economies. Tamara Key says it allowed her to play a part in the economic recovery by saving enough to get into a home in just one year, "I don't think we'd have been able to save that much in a year's time. I only had to save a thousand, but it would have taken me probably four or five years to save five thousand."
IDAs are available to New Mexicans who meet certain income qualifications, and there are often other requirements, such as making regular deposits. The accounts are administered by local nonprofits, like Prosperity Works, and local banks. More information is available by calling 505-217-2747.