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Individual Development Account (IDA)

Special matched savings accounts designed to assist individuals with low to moderate income on the path toward asset ownership through matched savings and financial education.

Participants in the IDA Program may save toward the following asset goals:

  • First home purchase
  • Post-secondary education
  • Startup or expansion of a small business
  • Startup or expansion of a farm or agriculture business

Assets IDA Accounts

Thank you for inquiring about the Assets IDA! Please note: as of June 2018, our Assets IDA program is full. We are still accepting applications to be placed on our waiting list. Should a slot open, we will contact applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

This program is open to people in Tompkins and the adjacent counties. Participants can save up to $1,000 (maximum of $125 per month) for a match of 2:1. Up to $1,000 of savings are matched with $2,000 for a total of $3,000 to go towards the asset goal of homeownership, business start-up and expansion, or post-secondary education for yourself or a dependent.

Eligibility Requirements: You can apply for the Assets IDA program if your total household income does not exceed the income limits listed below. Your assets cannot exceed $10,000 excluding the value of one home and one car per household. Income limits are based on gross income. Income must be earned income.

Income chart

Based on gross income within Tompkins County. Income limits vary by county.

Number of members in household* Allowable income
1 $24,280
2 $32,920
3 $41,560
4 $50,200
5 $58,840
6 $67,480
7 $76,120
8 $84,760

*Add $8,640 for each additional member.

To obtain an application and required documents to apply for an IDA, click on the “Request Info” button.

Homebuyer Dream Program

The Homebuyer Dream Program is a matched savings program offered to assist low to moderate income first time home buyers in Tompkins, Cortland, Tioga, Chemung, Schuyler, Seneca and Cayuga Counties.

Participants can save up to $1,000 to be matched with $14,500 for a total of $15,500 to go towards the asset goal of homeownership.

Eligible households will work with Alternatives’ staff to prepare for homeownership through a series of counseling sessions. When the household has accomplished all the necessary tasks to prepare for home ownership, they may meet with our mortgage department to obtain pre-qualification in order to start looking for homes.

Qualities Homebuyer Dream Program

Income eligibility limits per household 

(income limits subject to change)

1-2 person: $71,200*
3 or more: $81,880*

*For Tompkins County
(income limits vary by county)

Employment Must be full time (32+ hours/week) 
or equivalent
Education requirements Money Wise and INHS Homebuyers Course
within 18 months prior to home purchase
Other Have signed sales purchase contract,
dated prior to funding reservation request
Pre-qualification Must get a mortgage with Alternatives
in order to receive matching funds
Closing requirements Must sign a 5-year subordinate mortgage
for the total amount of the assistance received

We work with you to determine which route to home ownership is best for your situation. One size does not fit all, and we make sure you are well informed as you move along the road to a new home. Learn more about our home mortgage loans.

Please note that it is not until the household has an offer accepted on a home that the reservation requests for funding will be submitted to the funders. Only after the reservation request is confirmed by the funders is the household officially enrolled in the program. 

Funds are available on a first come, first served basis. Meeting with Alternatives’ staff or mortgage department does not guarantee availability of assistance. Once the funders have confirmed the reservation request, the household will then have a total of 120 days to close on the home.

For more information, see Alternatives' staff, or click the "Request info" button above.

Groundswell Center Agriculture IDA

In partnership with Groundswell Center for Food and Local Farming, we are proud to announce our Ag IDA for the startup or expansion of a farm or agriculture business. 

This program is open only to those in Cortland, Seneca, Schuyler, or Tompkins Counties. Through this program, Groundswell is offering a 3:1 match for your savings from $250 to $1,000 over 7-13 months. 

To be eligible to participate, applicants must:

  • Be a socially disadvantaged aspiring or existing farmer, including first generation immigrants, refugees, and those who are latinx, indigenous, or people of color
  • Fall within specific limited income guidelines
  • Meet education requirements

Please click here to visit Groundswell's Ag IDA page for all the details and to apply.

The Ag IDA Program is made possible through our partnership with Groundswell and funding from USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach 2501 Grant Program.

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