Family Assets for Independence Modifications and Appropriations

Legislation was heard this week to appropriate money to the Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM) program. The successful FAIM program helps low-income Minnesotans pull themselves out of poverty by setting up savings accounts with incentives to set aside money to purchase a home, pursue higher education, or start a small business. FAIM participants can place up to $40 a month from their income into a Family Asset (savings) Account, which is matched 3-1 upon completion of asset contracts. While the program is ultimately funded at a 3-1 match, half of the match comes from the federal government and the other half from state government.

As part of the asset contract, the legislation directs participants to learn successful financial habits for preserving their assets. Last biennium, the Legislature reinstated the $500,000 cut to the program that occurred in the 2011 session. The loss of the funds in 2011 eliminated the state match. In 2012, the Legislature temporarily patched together some funds to continue services for most of the state.

The 2015 legislation appropriates $250,000 for each year of the biennium. Additionally, the bill would clarify the Family Assets for Independence statute to include the services a financial coach provides to a program participant. The duties include asset-specific training and financial stability education. (S.F. 137)

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