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Family Self Sufficiency Program.

Families that receive federal government rental assistance from HUD can get additional help as well as free counseling from the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. Individuals can get case management, help finding jobs, tips on saving or managing money and employment training among other services

FSS is often for section 8 housing recipients or those in HUD housing. While the exact assistance will often vary based on applicant, FSS will also generally coordinate financial workshops, debt reduction programs, and offer support for other families who receive government assistance including Section 8 vouchers. The Family Self-Sufficiency program will try to provide participants with resources as well as social services to help them move towards economic independence and financial stability over the long term.

Participants in the program can include people who receive rental and housing assistance from the federal government, such as section 8, public housing disability assistance, or homeless prevention. FSS can also assist those who are staying in transitional housing or shelters. The primary objective is to assist families and individuals who are currently receiving federal government rental assistance, and the goal is to move them to economic independence and become self-sufficient so that they are free of any state and federal governmental assistance over the mid to long term.

Most states will allow almost all Housing Choice Voucher Program participants as well as Public Housing residents to be considered for the FSS Program in their state. In other words, anyone on section 8 will automatically be enrolled.

FSS process

Participants in government housing programs and in particular the head of the household of each participating family must sign an FSS contract, which is usually a multi-year agreement that ensures full participation. The contract will establish the responsibilities and rights of both parties. The 5-year FSS contract will go over terms of the arrangement and it will cover specific goals as well as social services for each family, and the contract is binding on the client.




The Family Self-Sufficiency program provides services, including, but not limited to, the following. Participants are provided the opportunity to meet with a highly trained case manager and other FSS families who are now enrolled. The program will give them assistance and counseling such as:

  • Credit repair/debt reduction/home ownership – Learn how to improve credit scores and reduce debts with the goal of buying a home, as section 8 does encourage that as well.
  • Resume writing and job finding – Get feedback on your resume, and improve your career search for jobs. Also you may be able to network. Find how to improve your career prospects and income over time.
  • Support – Get encouragement, hear others stories, and bridge the social isolation that is characteristic of people who are struggling or families in distress.
  • Job openings and referrals – Get information about local charities, non-profits and local community services as well as current job openings in your local community.
  • Skills - A key to housing and financial stability is having the proper skills. Family Self-Sufficiency program there can help clients enroll into on the job training programs.
  • Financial assistance and grants for higher education – Find where to turn to for private and government grants, scholarships, and aid for higher education and job training. Family Self-Sufficiency case managers will help the client apply.
  • Revolving Loan Fund – Many locations can direct people to low interest loans so that they can possibly refinance to pay down debts and get back on track with paying bills. Or find other details on loans for low income families.

Saving money is also a critical goal of FSS. The tool used is a savings account. Therefore most state Family Self-Sufficiency programs enable a participant to establish a saving account for their long term self sufficiency. The account will be an interest-bearing FSS escrow account, and it will be established by your local housing authority for each family.

What will happen is that an escrow credit, which will be based on increases in earned income of the family, is credited to this savings account during the term of the FSS contract. Then, when the family goes through the program and completes the contract, and when no member of the family is receiving cash welfare assistance from the government, then the amount of the FSS account is paid out by the housing authority to the head of the family.







Many of the resources offered by the Family Self-Sufficiency occur in monthly workshops, and others are offered in standard meetings and counseling sessions. The goal is to make them as accessible as possible to as many people in the community as possible.

Applying for support from FSS

When you enroll in government housing such as section 8, the Family Self-Sufficiency program should be explained to you and you should be automatically enrolled it in. However you can call your local housing authority or social service office to learn more as well or apply.

By Jon McNamara

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