In FY14, Congress combined funding for the Public Housing FSS (PH FSS) and Housing Choice Voucher FSS (HCV FSS) programs into one program serving both populations. The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program enables families assisted through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, Public Housing (PH) residents, and residents of Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act-assisted housing to increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on welfare assistance and rental subsidies. Under the FSS program, low-income families are provided opportunities for education, job training, counseling and other forms of social service assistance, while living in assisted housing, so they can obtain skills necessary to achieve self-sufficiency.
The FSS program is administered by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) with the help of Program Coordinating Committees (PCCs). The PCC usually consists of representatives of local government, employment and job training agencies, welfare agencies, nonprofit providers, local businesses, and assisted families.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What is the FSS Program?
FSS is a program that enables HUD-assisted families to increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on welfare assistance and rental subsidies.
Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) work in collaboration with a Program Coordinating Committee (PCC) to secure commitments of public and private resources for the operation of the FSS program, to develop the PHA’s FSS Action Plan (the FSS policy framework), and to implement the program.
How does the program work?
Once an eligible family is selected to participate in the program, the PHA, and the head of each participating family execute a FSS Contract of Participation that specifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The term of the FSS contract is generally 5 years, but it may be extended for another 2 years by the PHA for good cause.
The FSS contract also incorporates the family’s individual training and services plan (ITSP). The ITSP is the document that records the plan for the family. That is, the series of intermediate and long-term goals and the steps the family needs to take – and the services and resources they may need to access – to achieve those goals.
Some of the services coordinated through the program include: child care, transportation, education, job training, employment counseling, financial literacy, and homeownership counseling, among others. Services are generally not provided by the PHA, but rather outsourced to service providers in the community.
An interest-bearing escrow account is established by the PHA for each participating family. Any increases in the family’s rent as a result of increased earned income during the family’s participation in the program result in a credit to the family’s escrow account. Once a family graduates from the program, they may access the escrow and use it for any purpose.
Who is eligible to participate in the FSS program?
The FSS program is available to Public Housing (PH) residents, Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program participants, and recently, residents of project-based rental assistance (PBRA) projects.
How do families enroll in the program?
Eligible families should discuss participation in the FSS program with their local PHA. Please note that FSS funding for tribes is only applicable to the PH FSS program. Also note that if you are a PBRA resident you will need to contact the PBRA owner of the property where your unit is located (if different than the PHA) for more information.