U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded 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.”
HUD's Family Self -Sufficiency (FSS) Program funding helps local public housing authorities to hire Service Coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with existing programs and services in the local community. These Service Coordinators build relationships with networks of local service providers, who provide direct assistance to FSS participants. 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.
Participants in the program sign a five-year contract of participation requiring the head of the household to set specific goals and achievements allowed under the FSS Program. To successfully graduate, the head of household must be employed and no member of the FSS family may have received cash welfare assistance for twelve months prior to program graduation. 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 rent due to improvement in the family's earned income during the term of the FSS contract. Upon successful graduation, the head of household can apply those funds to advance their personal circumstances, including, for example, paying educational expenses or making a down-payment on a home.
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.