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 stop 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 email@example.com.
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!
Am I automatically accepted in the program if I meet all of the necessary requirements?
Unfortunately not. Applicants are admitted into the program based on available funding resources.
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 is required to access the match funds.You will have to take some training classes relevant to your asset goal before you can invest in your asset. Also, your savings and matching funds can only be used towards closing costs and any other expenses related to purchase of your home.
I can barely make ends meet every month! How do you expect me to save any money?
Most people are surprised by how quickly they are able to find at least $25 per month to save in their account. For some, finding $25 to save can be as easy as rearranging the phone services they pay for every month, but almost never use. For others, having coffee at home instead of buying a cup on the way to work is the way they find extra savings. All of our savers have the opportunity to sign up for the My Budget Coach program to help them create a budget. This serves as a great foundation to help you save and reach your chosen asset goal.
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, face penalties for misuse, and are motivated to comply because Prosperity Accounts provide a route to their dreams. United Way holds the matching funds in a separate account, and only writes a check at the time the account holder is ready to purchase their asset. Checks are written only to eligible vendors such as the seller of a home or institution; a rental property owner; lease management agency; or an automobile dealer.
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!" This is because the earnings, the matching money, and the interest that goes into your IDA do not count as your income or resources when we figure your SSI benefit. In addition, any interest earned on an individual’s own contributions and on matching funds to an IDA is excluded from SSI’s definition of countable income and resources. Payouts from an IDA can be made only for a qualified purpose (such as for a vehicle, home, business capitalization, and higher education or training) or for an allowable emergency (as determined by United Way). These payouts and emergency withdrawals are also not counted as income for SSI purposes.
Do I need a lot of money to open a Prosperity Account?
No. You can open a Prosperity Account for as little as $25!
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?
Matched funds will be made available when the saver is ready to purchase an asset. At that time a vendor check will be issued directly to the company, institution or individual furnishing all or a part of a participant’s asset goal (for example: a title company, home inspector, automobile dealership, wholesale supplier, or University). One of the benefits of this process is that the saver is not taxed on the savings match.
Where does all this match money come from?
The Prosperity Account matched savings are funded through a grant from Assets For Independence (AFI) and United Way of Frederick County.
Why would anyone want to provide money for a program like this?
Prosperity Accounts (also known as Individual Development Accounts – IDAs) not only provide savings incentives, but also the opportunity for people to enter the financial mainstream. It is estimated that for each federal dollar invested in IDAs, five dollars go to the national economy in the form of new businesses, additional earnings, new and rehabilitated homes, reduced welfare expenditures, and human capital associated with greater educational attainment.
Is there a chance United Way of Frederick County won't have my money when it comes time for me to buy the asset I've been saving for?
No. United Way of Frederick County will always have the money it needs to match your savings. We'll never open an account unless we have the full amount someone could receive in match dollars up front. We reserve the full amount of match any Investor could receive whenever a new account is opened to ensure that all of our savers will always have access to their funds when they are finished saving.
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 12 months 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
Once a saver has pre-qualified, they must complete and submit a Prosperity Account application with the required documentation.
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
- Frequently Asked Questions