When refugees first arrive in the U.S, their immediate goal is to become economically become sufficient as quickly as possible, and to learn to navigate their new community. It can be a challenging period of adjustment for individuals and families. IINE staff continually provide guidance and support and eventually the days get easier as people build their confidence.
After an initial adjustment, dreams of starting a business or owning a new car or home begin to emerge. In Lowell, IINE has helped clients to realize those dreams with the IINE Asset Builder Program, an Individual Development Account program that provides matching funds to refugees to make large, life-changing purchases such as a home, the launch of a small business, post-secondary education, or training or a car(for employment purposes). The Asset Builder program is funded in part by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, a department of Health and Human Services.
Since the Asset Builder program launched in October of 2016, 66 individuals and households have enrolled in the program. Individuals are eligible for up to a $2,000 match on eligible asset-building purchases while families can secure $4,000. As the program nears its 18th month, IINE has supported clients in acquiring 23 assets, including the purchase of 4 homes and 17 vehicles. Two additional clients enrolled in higher education and launched a new business.
Here are some recent highlights from the Asset Builder program: One Iraqi gentleman and his family arrived in 2013, saved $4,000 with the goal of homeownership and received $4,000 in matching funds. They used the funds as a downpayment to purchase a beautiful home. A Burmese family who arrived in 2016 saved $4,000 with the goal of employment success and received $4,000 in matching funds. They used the money to purchase a vehicle that will enable them to drive to and from work and provide carpool opportunities with co-workers. One young woman from The Democratic Republic of Congo is attending college using Asset Builder funds. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Salem State University.
The International Institute of New England has been supporting newcomers to Lowell since 1918. For 100 years we have been helping refugees and immigrants stabilize their lives and begin futures in the U.S. You can be part of that process by becoming more involved as a volunteer and/or a donor. Thank you.