By Adam Stein VP, Community Reinvestment Act Compliance Manager
For many people living in underserved communities, disaster is just one missed paycheck or unexpected car repair away. CASA of Oregon seeks to help families and individuals living in Oregon’s most under-resourced areas gain the financial skills and stability necessary to bounce back from life’s inevitable bumps and barriers.
Through programming and advocacy, CASA works to improve housing opportunities and to create stronger communities throughout Oregon, but particularly in the state’s rural areas. The organization has developed more than 1,000 new and 200 renovated multi-family housing units in Oregon. In partnership with other community organizations, CASA also develops Headstart facilities, health clinics, and community centers.
CASA tackles tough problems in innovative ways, and Columbia Bank is proud to partner with the organization on an exciting family economic opportunity: Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are matched savings accounts offered to individuals with limited financial resources by community organizations. These structured savings accounts, which Columbia Bank administers at no charge, allow their owners to save for a specific goal, like buying or repairing a home or paying for school. Account-holders are responsible for depositing a set amount each month, and all deposits are matched by the Oregon IDA Initiative through CASA of Oregon.
An IDA allows the account holder to reach his or her financial goal more quickly because of the matched contributions, but along the way, the individual learns much about saving, budgeting, and working with a financial institution. All of these skills are crucial steps along the path to financial resiliency and to creating healthier, more stable communities and families.
“Many people who enter into the IDA program are unbanked or under-banked when they enroll. Some have had negative experiences with banking in the past, or believe that they are ineligible to open a bank account,” explains Rebekah Barger, Family Economic Opportunity Director at CASA of Oregon. “Our relationships with financial institutions like Columbia are a critical component in helping people gain financial capability skills. We could not offer this program without them.” Deeply invested in the communities that we serve, Columbia values being able to work alongside CASA of Oregon in this important endeavor.
To learn more about the important work that CASA does in Oregon’s communities and the IDA program they administer, you can visit the organization on the web.
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