Office of Refugee Resettlement IDA Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement Individual Development Account (IDA) Program provides five-year grants to public or private nonprofits to establish IDAs for low-income refugees. The program, which is authorized in Section 412(c)(1)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, allocates nearly $3 million annually with grants of $200,000 to $400,000 awarded to ten to fifteen grantees.

The grants are used to establish IDAs, or matched savings accounts, to help refugees build wealth. The matched savings accounts can be used to finance the purchase of a home; pay for college education, vocational training, or recertification; or finance start-up costs for a self-owned business.  In order for an eligible refugee to participate in the Program, he or she must contribute to the savings account. For every dollar that a refugee deposits, the AFIA grant recipient organization provides a match deposit, which cannot exceed more than $2,000 for individuals or $4,000 for households. Nonprofit organizations that administer this program - some of which are community development corporations (CDCs) - also provide financial literacy education, which helps refugees improve their budgeting, savings, and credit management skills.  Refugees must sign a saving plan agreement, specifying in detailed fashion how they plan to save and the goals of their participation in the program.

The Office of Refugees Resettlement allows for a broad range of applicants, including state, county, and local governments; school districts; public and private institutions of higher education; and non-profit organizations. The grants have assisted many refugees build wealth and develop businesses in low-income areas.