Twenty-five years ago this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched a program to help households living in assisted housing to become self-sufficient. HUD marked the 25th anniversary of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS) by awarding $75 million nationally including nearly $2.4 million to Michigan to continue helping public housing residents and those participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program to further their education and find good jobs.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson made the funding announcement this morning at a FSS anniversary commemoration with the District of Columbia Housing Authority in Washington.
“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 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.”
“Family Self-Sufficiency funding is critical in our effort to empower HUD assisted residents by giving them a hand up towards independence and an opportunity to reach their full-potential,” said Joseph P. Galvan, HUD Midwest Regional Administrator.
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. The program encourages innovative strategies that link housing 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 and housing self-sufficiency.
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 certain types of 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 FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including debt reduction in order to improve credit scores, educational expenses, or a down payment on a home.
During the 10-year period from 2007-2016, the average household income of FSS participant more than doubled from approximately $10,000 at the time of entry into the program to more than $27,000 upon completion.