What is FSS?
FSS stands for Family Self-Sufficiency. It’s a program designed to help Section 8 participants work their way off government assistance and become financially independent.
How does it work?
The family meets with the FSS Coordinator and sets goals for a 5-year period. Together they identify the steps the family needs to take to meet those goals and what services can help meet their needs along the way. Throughout the 5 years the family will have access to support services, a variety of resources, and a growing escrow account!
Do I have to finish this in five years?
The average person would take about five years to meet their goals. However, it is common for some people to finish sooner. Some people have extenuating circumstances and may need longer than 5 years. An extension may be possible.
I’m not working right now. Do I have to wait until I get a job before I sign up for FSS?
Having a job when you start the program is not necessary. All you need is the desire to change your current circumstances.
If I already have a job does that make me ineligible?
No, you are still eligible if you are employed.
What if I’m not sure what my goals should be or what kind of a job I want?
That’s okay, one of the services provided by the program is assistance with goal setting and career counseling. These resources will help you understand your strengths, interests, and identify jobs that would be most likely to suit you. This can help you choose what you want to do.
What is the escrow account?
When an FSS family’s earned income increases the family’s share of rent also increases and the amount the Housing Authority pays goes down resulting in a savings for the Housing Authority. The Housing Authority is then able to deposit money in an account for the family every month that this increase exists. When the family completes their FSS contract, they get the money that has been saved in the escrow account!
How can I use the money?
Once the family completes their contract, the money belongs to the family to use as they choose. Many past FSS participants have used their escrow accounts to help buy a home of their own.
How does FSS help me move on to homeownership?
The escrow account that can accrue for you is an excellent source for a down payment. You would also have access to first-time homebuyer guidance and resources. And don’t forget the most important part – you’ll be aiming towards working in a job of your choosing and earning an income that should enable you to qualify for a home loan.
How does this affect my Section 8?
It doesn’t. FSS is a voluntary program. If you choose not to participate, it will not affect your Section 8 assistance in any way. So what have you got to lose?
If I transfer my Section 8 Housing Assistance to another Housing Authority will I be able to transfer my FSS?
It will be necessary to contact the Housing Authority you wish to transfer to and ask if they have a FSS Program and if they are able to accept you into their FSS Program. You must contact the FSS Coordinator at the receiving Housing Authority within 30 days of leasing up in their jurisdiction. For more information, please refer to the FSS brochure.