You pay into refugees' savings accounts! Contractors manage the money

This week I had a discussion with another refugee program investigator and the subject of Office of Refugee Resettlement matched saving accounts came up and I decided I better say something about it again so that our many new readers would know about this little pot of your tax dollars that helps refugees buy cars, homes, businesses and higher education.


Over the years I’ve heard of low income Americans complaining about refugees getting cars from the government.
Seems preposterous doesn’t it?
You’ve heard of Obama phones, right?  Well, this is about Obama cars (there were Bush cars too!).  It isn’t quite that straight forward; refugees aren’t given cars outright as they were with the phones. But, you do in fact help pay for refugees to get cars.
The refugee must save something toward the car and then you kick in some of your cash to match it.
The program is called the IDA program (Individual Development Accounts) and it not only helps the refugee dip into your wallet, but since the grant is administered through non-governmental organizations (grantees and contractors) it helps them too!  And, you don’t think they are administering this program without a little overhead skimmed off the top, do you?

Here is how the Office of Refugee Resettlement describes the multi-million dollar IDA grant program:

Individual Development Accounts (IDA) are matched savings accounts designed to help refugees save for a specific purchase. Under the IDA program, the matching funds, together with the refugee’s own savings from their employment, are available for purchasing one (or more) of four savings goals:

1. Home purchase
2. Small business development
3. Post secondary education or training
4. Automobile (for employment purposes)

Public or private non-profit organizations administer IDA programming. Refugees receive basic financial training to help them understand the American financial system, budgeting, saving and credit. In addition, refugees receive training focused on the specific savings goals. The specialized training ensures that refugees understand how to manage their assets.

Successful IDA programs [this is not a joke!—ed]

*Improve the ability of low-income refugees to save
*Promote participation in banking
*Assist in education and career training
*Increase home ownership
*Provide access to funding

IDA grantees provide matched savings accounts to refugees whose annual income is less than 200 percent of the poverty level and whose assets, exclusive of a personal residence and one vehicle, are less than $10,000. Grantees provide matches of up to $1 for every $1 deposited by a refugee in a savings account. The total match amount provided may not exceed $2,000 for individuals or $4,000 for households. Upon enrolling in an IDA program, a refugee signs a savings plan agreement which specifies the savings goal, the match rate, and the amount the refugee will save each month.

So, as a refugee, you could own a house and a car and if you have less than $10,000 in the bank, you are eligible to have a federally matched savings account!

Here is a link to the most recent grantees in the matched savings account program.

Idaho getting cash!

I see one of the recipients is the Boise, Idaho Mountain States Group which recently got $200,000 big ones to run this giveaway.

Mountain States Group, Inc.  Boise ID 9/29/2016 $200,000 Jan Reeves
1607 West Jefferson Street, Boise, ID 8370-5111

And, by the way, if you are doing your research out there in Idaho, you will notice that Mountain States Group is now Jannus, Inc (not not named for Jan Reeves, an Obama Champion of Change, but for the Roman god—huh?).  These contractors are always changing their names.  Is it to confuse anyone trying to follow the money?  Just wondering.
Here is a recent Form 990 for Jannus, Inc. thanks to one of the many budding investigators out there!  (About 90% funded by government grants!)
One more thing on Idaho.  It is a Wilson-Fish state; so the refugee program there cuts elected officials out of the process and leaves it up to the US State Department and Jannus, Inc. to call the shots on refugees going to Idaho.  You, the citizens, have NO voice.
Endnote:  I’m in DC today making a presentation, so probably won’t have any time to post anything else or answer all of your e-mails. Sorry!