Washington, DC— The Bowser Administration, through the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) is highlighting how the Mayor’s FY 22 #FairShot Budget provides an additional $3.8 million under the DC Opportunity Accounts Program to help District residents save for continuing education, first-time home purchases, small business development and emergency medical needs. The funding, available as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act 2021, will begin in Fiscal Year 2022; the $3.8 million is budgeted annually for the next three years.
The Opportunity Accounts Program is a 4:1 matched savings program that helps qualified District residents save up to $7,500. The saved funds are used for a variety of purposes such as continuing education, first-time home purchases, small business development and even emergency medical needs.
“The DC Opportunity Accounts Program empowers residents to pursue their goals of purchasing a home, going to college or even buying a car, which in turn can provide them with a pathway to the middle class,” said Mayor Bowser.
The program is managed by DISB and administered by its contractor, Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB). DISB budgeted $2.4 million in Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022 for the program—a 166 percent increase over the previous two years.
“We know that saving money is just as important as earning it, and the Opportunity Accounts Program helps residents develop sound savings habits and financial resiliency,” said DISB Commissioner Karima M. Woods.
DC Opportunity Accounts works as follows: Qualified residents make regular deposits of up to $1,500 in a savings account for a maximum of 18 months. DISB matches the deposits 4:1. For example, participants who save $1,500 will get a match of $6,000, growing their contribution to $7,500. The funds can be used toward investments in college, continuing education, job training, first-time home purchases, and small business development. The funds may also be used to pay for medical emergencies and to help leverage the cost of retirement. A new feature of the program allows account holders to use funds to purchase a motor vehicle and make emergency withdrawals to pay for health insurance premiums in the event of a sudden, unexpected loss of income.
To qualify for the program, applicants need to meet specific requirements:
- Be a District resident.
- Have a maximum annual household income of $54,250, for households with one adult and $62,000 for two adults living in the same household.
- Have earned income.
- Have less than $10,000 in net assets (excluding a primary home and one vehicle).
Participants must contribute to the account for at least 6 months and participate in money management and asset-specific training before they can make a matched withdrawal. Participants who plan to use the matched savings to buy homes must qualify as first-time homebuyers.
Since the program relaunched in 2019, more than 181 individuals have enrolled and nearly 50 percent—90 individuals—reached their savings goals, representing $675,000 in combined contributions and matched funds.
To apply for the DC Opportunity Accounts program, email [email protected].
The mission of the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) is three-fold:
(1) cultivate a regulatory environment that protects consumers and attracts and retains financial services firms to the District; (2) empower and educate residents on financial matters; and (3) provide financing for District small businesses.
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