The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has marked the 25th anniversary year of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS) by awarding $69,380 to the Virgin Islands Housing Authority to continue helping public housing residents and those participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program to further their education and find good jobs.
Twenty-five years ago, this year, HUD launched the FSS program to help households living in subsidized housing to become independent.
“A necessary part of what we do is to help families move beyond HUD assistance by providing the tools they need to become self-sufficient,” said Secretary Ben Carson. “For 25 years, HUD and our local partners have been connecting residents to job training, childcare and other resources that expand their opportunities and lead them towards higher paying jobs and self-sufficiency.”
“HUD is empowering public housing residents to improve their circumstances to compete and succeed in the workplace,” said HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett.
HUD’s FSS program helps local public housing authorities to hire service coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with programs and services that already exist in the local community. It encourages innovative strategies that link public housing and Housing Choice Voucher assistance with a broad spectrum of services that will enable participating families to find jobs, increase earned income, reduce or eliminate the need for rental and/or welfare assistance, and make progress toward achieving economic independence.
Participants in the program sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and that no member of the household will receive public assistance at the end of the five-year term. Families in the FSS program have an interest-bearing escrow account established for them. the amount credited to the family’s escrow account is based on increases in the family’s earned income during the term of the FSS contract.
If the family successfully completes its contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including improving credit scores, paying educational expenses or making a down payment on a home.
During a 10-year period from 2007-2016, the average household income of someone who has gone through the program nearly doubled from over $10,000 at the time of entry into the program to over $27,000 upon completion.
To learn more about the successes and accomplishments of the program and how it has helped families across the country, read “25 Years of Family Self-Sufficiency Program: Families Working, Families Prospering.”