Family Self-Sufficiency Program: Improve Your Financial Future

Westbrook Housing’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS) helps families with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) obtain a job, additional education or job training to become financially independent.

Under this U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program, our FSS coordinator helps you create a five-year plan in order to obtain employment or start a business and/or achieve homeownership.

If your income and rent increase during the program because of a new job or additional education, Westbrook Housing will put those funds in a special escrow savings account. When you complete the program and reach your goals, you’ll get that money back!

How does the FSS program work?
You must have a Section 8 voucher to enroll in the program, which is completely voluntary. You meet with the program coordinator to help define your goals and set up a five-year plan.

  1. First, you sign a contract that spells out your family’s goals and the steps you will take to reach them. Westbrook Housing helps you get the services you need to meet those goals.
  2. Westbrook Housing sets up an FSS escrow savings account. If your household income and your share of the rent increase during the program, we will put a portion of that increased rent payment into the escrow account. The money stays in the account and earns interest until you finish the program. If you successfully complete the program, you receive the funds in your account. You can use the money to make a down payment on a house, buy a car, pay for education, or for any other purpose.
  3. You may be able to borrow from this account to pay for education or other approved services during the program.
  4. To complete the program, you must meet all the terms of your contract. The head of the family must have a job, and all members of the family must be off public cash assistance (TANF) for the last 12 months of the program.

Families can end their FSS contracts at any time if they do not want to continue with the program. Families do not lose their Housing Choice vouchers if they leave the FSS program. However, any money in their account returns to Westbrook Housing.

Am I eligible?
To be eligible:

  • You must have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
  • You must be motivated to become self-sufficient
  • You must sign a five-year contract of participation

What benefits will I get?
The FSS program has two types of benefits:

  • Case management: The Westbrook Housing program coordinator helps you define your job goals and the steps you will take to achieve them. The coordinator will help you get the services you need to reach your goals. These services may include:
    • GED classes and other education programs
    • Job training
    • Career counseling and job search
    • Child care and transportation
    • Financial management
  • FSS escrow account: Westbrook Housing will set up an FSS escrow savings account. If your family’s income and rent share increase during the program, we put money into the account. The money stays in the account and earns interest until the end of the program.

If you successfully complete the program, your family is provided with the money saved. During the program, we may allow you to borrow from the account if you need money to help you reach your goals.

How do I apply?
If you are interested in the FSS program, contact Mary Bouvier at (207) 854-6822.

Useful links

Housing Choice Voucher Family Self-Sufficiency
General information about the FSS program, eligibility, services provided, escrow account information, and federal regulations governing the program (24 CFR 984). From the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Family Self-Sufficiency Program: HUD’s Best Kept Secret for Promoting Employment and Asset Growth
A 2001 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that describes the FSS program, how it benefits tenants and PHAs, and how it could be more effective.

Westbrook Housing’s FSS Brochure

Source: http://www.massresources.org/section8-fss.html

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