What is the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program?

FSS is a HUD work program that assists eligible families to remove the barriers preventing them from reaching their goals and helps them to gain the skills and experience they need to obtain work that pays a living wage. HACOT works with local partners to provide participants the supports and resources necessary to meet needs like childcare, transportation, education and training, debt reduction, asset building and home ownership counseling. FSS is an optional program HACOT offers with the goal of helping families achieve their dreams so they can become more self sufficient and rely less on public assistance.

How do families apply for the FSS Program?

The FSS Program is for any family currently receiving rental assistance through HACOT’s Housing Choice Voucher Program or living in one of HACOT’s Public Housing units. If interested, a family may complete the FSS application at any point during their tenancy and submit it to the FSS Family Support Specialist to begin the steps to enroll. If you’ve got goals that seem impossible to reach, a specific barrier that is stopping you from achieving your dreams or need a little extra support and encouragement to build a better life, then the FSS Program is for you.

What are the requirements to participate in FSS?

The head of household will be required to complete an FSS contract of participation that states the responsibilities of both parties, the Participant and the Housing Authority. The contract has an initial term of 5 years and includes a section called the Training and Services Plan. This section outlines the specific goals each family wants to reach and the services and resources that will be used to remove any barriers and reach those goals. FSS is a work program, so one of the goals will be for the head of the contract to seek and maintain suitable employment. Family members must complete all the requirements in their plan in order to graduate from the FSS Program and be eligible to receive the funds in their escrow account. One of the additional requirements for participation is minimum twice a year contact with the Family Support Specialist to provide updates, get additional support and encouragement and track progress.

What is the escrow account?

Each participant family has the opportunity to develop savings through an escrow account started and managed by HACOT. As a participant’s earned income increases, so does their portion of the rent. For an FSS family an amount generally equal to their rent increase is placed in the escrow account. The more money a family earns, the more money gets deposited by HACOT into their escrow account. When an FSS contract of participation is completed a family may be eligible to receive all of the money held in the escrow account.