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Individual Development Accounts for Immigrants and Refugees Strategies, special considerations, and resources for practitioners.

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Presentation on theme: "Individual Development Accounts for Immigrants and Refugees Strategies, special considerations, and resources for practitioners."— Presentation transcript:

1 Individual Development Accounts for Immigrants and Refugees Strategies, special considerations, and resources for practitioners

2 Diversity in Kansas and Missouri In Kansas, 5% of the total population is foreign- born; 3.3% is non-citizen. In Missouri, these figures are 2.7 and 1.6%, respectively. In some parts of these states, however, the new American population is considerably larger. Only 7 counties in Kansas and 5 in Missouri failed to see increases in the Hispanic origin population category between 1990 and counties in Kansas and 56 in Missouri saw their Latino populations increase by 100%+. In Missouri, 3 counties saw growth of more than 1000%.

3 Starting with the Basics What is an “immigrant?” An immigrant is a foreign-born individual who has been admitted to reside permanently in the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Many people who are considered “immigrants” are actually non-immigrants under law: students, tourists, temporary workers

4 Starting with the Basics What is a “refugee?” A refugee is a person outside of the U.S. who is granted protections on the grounds that he/she fears persecution in his/her homeland (based on race, religion, social group membership, political opinion, national origin). What is an “Asylee?” An asylee is a person who comes to the U.S. because of a similar fear and is granted similar protections after arrival.

5 Why IDAs with immigrants and refugees? Fights Poverty The poverty rate among native born Americans is 11.2%. The poverty rate for non-citizen immigrants is 21.3%. Builds Stable Connections to New Home Provides an anchor and buffer for recent arrivals Orients to U.S. Financial System Same Positive Outcomes as Other Participants

6 IDA Programs and Policy with new Americans

7 Special Considerations in Program Design—Language Most adults need approximately 4-5 years to become proficient in English. During this time of language acquisition, they will need services in their native languages and/or use of interpreters. Translated documents should be tested with native speakers. Interpreters’ competency should be independently verified. Many immigrants have low literacy levels in their native language, making oral communication essential.

8 Special Considerations in Program Design—Status Many immigrants and refugees experience times of being “out of status” in respect to their immigration permission. This affects: Work authorization Eligibility for public benefits Willingness to engage with agencies IDA programs should, wherever possible, utilize alternative documentation and verification processes to facilitate immigrant participation.

9 Special Considerations in Program Design—Culture An IDA program or financial literacy class may have many diverse cultures represented, all of which may be different than that of the instructor. Discussions about money are particularly culturally- sensitive for many people. Seek multicultural staff, but also build program on life experiences, allow for flexibility, learn from participants as experts.

10 Special Considerations in Program Design—Culture (2) Newcomers often need to build, rather than repair, a credit history. Unfamiliarity with our consumer culture requires learning about scams & how to advocate for self. Comfort level can be raised through exposure to banking professionals (as volunteer trainers or guest speakers).

11 Special Considerations in Policy Development Wide range of allowable assets Sensitivity to status, documentation Flexible timeline for purchases Continue protections against “public charge” Additional administrative dollars for translations, multilingual staff

12 New Americans and Asset Investments

13 Immigrants/Refugees and Entrepreneurship Often strong tradition of self-employment, but in very different business culture. Culturally and linguistically appropriate business assistance Possible community resistance to minority/non-citizen businesses Often fails to lift families out of poverty, particularly for large extended families

14 Immigrants/Refugees and Postsecondary Education Some immigrant categories considered “foreign students” despite years of residence in a state Language challenges with entrance exams and coursework Difficulty transferring credits from foreign institutions Cultural isolation for new Americans at some institutions

15 Immigrants/Refugees and Homeownership Homeownership Rate Among Native Born Homeownership Rate Among Naturalized Citizens Homeownership Rate Among Non-citizens 68% 66% 32% U. S. Census Bureau 1997 Home is sweet in all languages!

16 Immigrants/Refugees and Homeownership Homeownership Rate Among Native Born 68% Homeownership Rate Among Naturalized Citizens Who Entered Before % Homeownership Rate Among Non- citizens Who Entered Before % U. S. Census Bureau 1997 … But once I can say it in your language:

17 Immigrants/Refugees and Homeownership All Races Whites Blacks Hispanics Asians/Others 1.83% 1.67% 5.16% 9.11% 5.65% Growth of the homeownership/population ratio by Race ( )* * Based on 2000 Census

18 Immigrants/Refugees and Homeownership May or may not have tradition of private property ownership Multigenerational households and shared ownership Property maintenance, codes, safety Stigma of indebtedness Prejudice and discrimination in housing markets, lending

19 Victims of bad business practices Lack of consumer skills No credit history Employability issues Access to cash Strong extended family relations Less consumer oriented than American culture Motivated & determined Strong survival skills Barriers/Strengths Immigrants/Refugees and Homeownership

20 IDA Outcomes with Immigrants El Centro’s program serves, in partnership with HAFS, 131 individuals, of whom 88 are recent Latino immigrants. Average income is $26, 594 for immigrant participants. To date, these immigrants have saved, with match, $158,815 (between January 2002 and April 2003). 41 of these immigrants are saving for homeownership; 8 for post-secondary education, 14 for a small business, and the rest for multiple.

21 IDA Outcomes with Refugees AutomobileComputerHomeBusinessEducation * From May 2000 to March 31, 2003

22 Resources to get started Melinda Lewis, El Centro, Inc x.119 Web Resources about Immigrants:

23 More Resources Betsy Slosar (314) x156, Web Resources about Refugees


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