Pathway to Homeownership

Helping ALICE Families Achieve Homeownership

Save $3,000 to receive a match of $14,000!

The Pathway to Homeownership Program helps qualified ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households in Frederick County open a Homebuyer Savings Account. Savers receive a match of $14,000 when they save $3,000, allowing them to put a total of $17,000 towards purchasing a home!

Have questions? Please call the main phone number at 301-663-4231, or email Joyce Kwamena-Poh at jkwamenapoh@uwfrederick.org.


 

How it works:

  • Participants must save a minimum of $3,000 to access the match funds of $14,000 for a combined total of $17,000; participate in the budget coach program, attend a Credit Café workshop, take a First Time Homebuyer class to purchase a home through our program.

How do I apply for the program?

  1. Review income eligibility
  2. Complete the Pre-Qualification Form.
  3. You will receive an invitation to complete a full application if qualified.
  4. Upon completion of your application, you will schedule an appointment with a United Way staff member to submit required documentation.You will receive instructions to open a savings account with ACNB Bank.

 


 

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 a critical step for ALICE Households on the Pathway to Financial Stability.

The Pathway to Homeownership program is made possible thanks to the following partnerships and sponsors:

frederick county govt

  

state farm

 

turning point financial

...and donors like you.  Thank you!


 

Step 1: Complete the pre-qualification form below to see if you qualify for the program.

Step 2: If pre-qualified, you will automatically be promoted with a link to complete the full application. See the Application and Required Documentation.

Step 3: Meet with a Prosperity Center representative to submit the required documents for the application. See the required documents you'll need to bring with you.

Step 4: If approved, open your Prosperity Savings Account and begin saving towards making your dreams a reality!

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. The match funds 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. 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 $100 per month to save in their account. For some, finding $100 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. Participants are required to enroll in the Budget Coach program to help them create a budget and help them reach their financial goals. 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. The match funds are provided by the Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development, and the participant's lender will work directly with the County to access the funds when a participant fulfills all the program requirements and is ready to purchase a home. Checks are written only to eligible vendors such as the seller of a home, title company or home inspection company.

 

Will I lose my Social Security disability benefits if I participate in a Prosperity Account?

No. Participating in a Prosperity Savings Homebuyer Program (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 effect 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. Match funds from the County can only be used to purchase a home.

 

Do I need a lot of money to open a Prosperity Account?

The initial deposit to open a Prosperity Account is $200 for the homebuyer program and $50 for the vehicle program.

 

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 access to the matching funds, as long as you replace the emergency funds you’ve withdrawn.

 

How do I receive match funds?

Matched funds will be made available from the County when the saver is ready to purchase an asset. A vendor check from the saver's account 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 or home inspector. 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 match funds are provided by the Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development.

 

Why would anyone want to provide money for a program like this?

Prosperity Savings Accounts, not only provide savings incentives, but also the opportunity for people to enter the financial mainstream.

 

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?

We'll never open an account unless we have funding from the County. A saver will have access to the match funds when they save the full amount of $3,000 and fulfill all the program requirements.

As of August 2023, $14,000 in match funds is provided to Pathway to Homeownership participants who save $3,000 towards the purchase of a home. This increases the maximum available match for each saver to $14,000 - for a total of over $17,000, which includes their savings, towards purchase costs. 

The home must be purchased in Frederick County. Participants who have completed 6 sessions of the Budget Coach program will also qualify for $3,400 Foreclosure Prevention Fund. The fund will be available to use within the first three years 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

All Prosperity Account savers must start the application process by submitting a Pre-qualification survey.

Once a saver has pre-qualified, they will receive an email with a link to submit the full application and the next steps in the application process.

 

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 asset. Community partners provide valuable information to help increase the likelihood of successful asset purchase and retention. 6 sessions (one hour per session) of the Budget Coach program are required.

 

STEP 4 - Withdrawal, Asset Purchasing, and Beyond

In Step 4, savers, with staff assistance, are ready to make bank withdrawals from their Prosperity Savings 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:

Other Resources