Helping ALICE Families Achieve Homeownership
Every $1 saved will be matched with $4!
The Pathway to Homeownership Program helps qualified ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households in Frederick County open a Homebuyer Savings Account. Savers earn $4 for every $1 they save, allowing them to put a total of $15,000 toward purchasing a home!
The Pathway to Homeownership Program is a critical step for ALICE households on the Pathway to Financial Stability.
Have questions? Please call the main phone number at 301-663-4231, or email Joyce Kwamena-Poh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How It Works:
To apply for a Prosperity Savings Account, fill out our pre-qualification survey.
If pre-qualified, you will automatically be promoted with a link to complete the full application.
The Pathway to Homeownership Savings Account is brought to you by the partnership of United Way of Frederick County and the Frederick County Government.
The Pathway to Homeownership program is made possible thanks to the following partnerships and sponsors:
...and donors like you. Thank you!
- Pre Qualification Form (coming soon)
Am I automatically accepted in the program if I meet all of the necessary requirements?
Applicants are admitted into the program if they complete the application process and are approved to open a Prosperity Savings Account.
This sounds like a great deal, but I thought there was no such thing as free money. What's the catch?
There's no real catch to the Prosperity Accounts. This is a 0% interest loan with no payments due until the home is sold by the program graduate. There are a few requirements for you to participate. Participation in the Budget Coach Program, attending a Credit Cafe workshop and attending a First Time Homebuyer's Class are required to access the match funds.
How do we know Prosperity Accounts will be used as intended?
Provisions are built in to ensure compliance. Savers are informed of the eligible uses for Prosperity Accounts, and are motivated to comply because Prosperity Accounts provide a route to their dreams. Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development provides the match funds when a saver is ready to purchase a home and has completed all the program requirements.
Will I lose my Social Security disability benefits if I participate in a Prosperity Account?
No. Participating in a Prosperity Account (also known as Individual Development Accounts – IDAs) will NOT cause you to lose your Social Security disability benefits. Social Security disability benefits can be provided in two ways: through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or through Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For the former (SSDI), any resources or assets do not affect income when determining eligibility or when calculating benefit payment amounts. As for SSI, the Social Security website states explicitly that money saved in an Individual Development Account is not counted when determining SSI eligibility or when calculating benefit payments. Moreover, in response to a question about the affect of IDA savings on SSI benefits, the website states, “Your SSI benefit will not go down—it might even go up!" In addition, any interest earned on an individual’s own contributions is excluded from SSI’s definition of countable income and resources.
Do I need a lot of money to open a Prosperity Account?
The initial deposit to open a Prosperity Account is $200.
Where are savings deposited?
Certain designated financial institutions have agreed to establish special Prosperity Accounts, jointly owned by United Way of Frederick County and you.
Will I have access to my money once I deposit my savings into my account?
Because Prosperity Accounts are intended to help people purchase assets, withdrawals for non-asset uses are strongly discouraged. Participants are always free to close their accounts and withdraw from the program but will not receive the match for early withdrawal.
What if I have an emergency and need the savings I have put in my Prosperity Account?
All of our account holders will be allowed to withdraw their savings to help deal with emergencies that involve eviction, loss of a home, loss of employment, and medical emergencies. You'd be able to make this withdrawal without losing your match money, as long as you replace the emergency funds you’ve withdrawn.
How do I receive match funds?
Matching funds are provided by the Frederick County Department of Housing - and they work directly with a saver's lender to access the funds. Funds needed for other expenses such as the home inspection, will come from the saver's own account. A check will be issues directly to the vendor/company providing the service.
Where does all this match money come from?
Match funds for the Prosperity Savings Homebuyer program is provided by the Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development.
Is there a chance United Way of Frederick County won't have money when it comes time for me to buy the asset I've been saving for?
Matching money is based on availability of funds from the funding partner.
As of July 1, 2021, a $4 to $1 match is provided to Pathway to Homeownership participants who save up to $3,000 towards the purchase of a home. This increases the maximum available match for each saver to $12,000 - for a total of over $15,000, which includes their savings, towards purchase costs.
The home must be purchased in Frederick County. Participants who have completed all 12 sessions of the Budget Coach program will also qualify for $3,400 Foreclosure Prevention Fund. The fund will be available to use for three years immediately after the purchase of the home to help cover the monthly mortgage in case of an emergency.
Prosperity Accounts (also known as Individual Development Accounts – IDAs) are an innovative financial product and economic development tool used by community organizations throughout the United States to stimulate participants' savings rates, build their assets, and connect these individuals to the economic mainstream. Private foundations and the public sector fund most of the programs. The following four-step process documents how a saver moves through the Prosperity Account program.
STEP 1 – Pre-qualification and Application
All Prosperity Account savers must complete and submit a prosperity savings account application and required documentation. A Pre-qualification survey (coming soon) can be taken here.
Once a saver has pre-qualified, they will receive an email inviting them to complete the full application.
STEP 2 - Opening an IDA Account
All savers meet with a United Way administrator to review application, current household budget, discuss asset goals, review policies and procedures and complete savings plan agreement. Approved applicants will be referred to a designated financial institution for account opening.
STEP 3 - Financial Education Training
Budget Coaching and Credit Counseling is required prior to the purchase of their savings goal. Community partners provide valuable information to help increase the likelihood of successful asset purchase and retention. One hour of the Budget Coach program is required for every month (up to 12 months).
STEP 4 - Withdrawal, Asset Purchasing, and Beyond
In Step 4, savers, with staff assistance, are ready to make bank withdrawals from their Prosperity Account to purchase a home.
For a detailed breakdown of how the Prosperity Account program works, please refer to United Way Prosperity Account Policies and Procedures Manual
See below for a quick list of resources explaining the process of qualification, application, and sustained participation with a Prosperity Savings Account:
- How does the Prosperity Savings Account work?
- Prosperity Center Application Information and Documentation
- Prosperity Savings Account Homebuyer Manual and Prosperity Savings Account Car Program Manual