Family Self-Sufficiency Program:
Transitioning to Financial Independence
Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is a supportive program designed to assist participants in HAPHousing's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program to become financially self-sufficient. This means that the goal for all FSS participants is to no longer need to rely on public assistance, such as TAFDC, SSI, Section 8 or unemployment assistance.
To be eligible, you need to:
- Be a Section 8 participant with HAPHousing.
- Be motivated to try new and exciting things.
- Want to get off public assistance and obtain suitable employment.
- Want to change careers or employment direction.
You will work with an FSS counselor to determine the type of education, job training, or employment that interests you. The main role of your FSS counselor is to coordinate services and help to remove any barriers that may interfere in your success. The counselor can also help you improve your credit and prepare for homeownership. FSS counselors can provide varying levels of support and will be available to you for encouragement and continued direction throughout your participation in the program.
The program is based on a five-year plan to financial self-sufficiency, but some participants complete the program in less time. FSS counselors help participants set attainable goals and determine the steps that are needed to reach them.
The FSS Program Earning Initiative
Under the Section 8 program, when your income increases, your rent share increases. While participating in the FSS program, an increase in earned income (income from work) may result in the creation of an escrow account which provides an incentive to keep increasing your income. As your income increases, the difference between your previous and new income will be automatically deposited into this account each month, which will continue to grow while you are participating in FSS.
At the end of the program, once you have completed your goals and remain off any public assistance for 12 consecutive months, you will receive all of the money, including interest, that was put into the escrow account on your behalf. Participants often use the savings in their escrow account to accomplish additional long-term goals, such as buying a home or starting a business.
To learn more about how you can get involved in the FSS program, call 413-233-1503 or 413-233-1533.
You can also learn more about families whose lives were changed through their participation in the FSS program.