U.S. Housing and Urban Development Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Joseph J. DeFelice recently announced a grant of $228,118 has been awarded to the District of Columbia Housing Authority to support the agency’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. The grant is part of approximately $78 million to hundreds of public housing authorities across the country to help residents of public housing and voucher-assisted housing increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on public assistance and rental subsidies.
“Putting people on the path to self-sufficiency by helping them find jobs and increase their earned income is an essential part of HUD’s mission,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “This funding is a good example of how federal and local partnerships work to help connect families to jobs and educational opportunities to help them become a success.”
“As I have traveled throughout the region, I have seen first-hand how the Family Self-Sufficiency Program is providing a hand-up to individuals and their families,” added DeFelice. “Not only do our graduates become economically independent, many start new careers and become first-time homeowners—achievements of which we can all be proud.”
“DCHA is grateful for these funds to help our customers enrolled in FSS reach their goals. At DCHA, we have a dedicated FSS Center in Southeast, the Frederick Douglass Center, where our customers receive financial incentives on three different pathways to success—education, employment, and homeownership,” said DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett.
HUD’s Family Self -Sufficiency Program funding helps local public housing authorities hire Service Coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with existing programs and services in the local community. The broad spectrum of services made possible through FSS enables 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 self-sufficiency.
FSS participants sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and defines that no member of the household may have received cash welfare assistance for twelve months prior to program graduation. These families 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 they can use for any purpose, including debt reduction to improve credit scores, educational expenses, or a down payment on a home.
The average household income of FSS participants nearly tripled during their time in the program, from $10,000 at the time of entry to more than $27,000 upon program completion.
Many of the FY20 FSS awards are to public housing authorities with units in Opportunity Zones. Created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Opportunity Zones aim to stimulate long-term investments in low-income communities.
HUD did not receive applications for FSS renewal funding from every eligible PHA with an existing FSS Program. With approximately $2 million in remaining FY 2020 funding, HUD plans to issue a supplemental Notice of Funding Opportunity inviting those eligible PHAs with FSS Programs to apply competitively for the residual FY 2020 funds.