What is FSS?
Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is a HUD-sponsored program that encourages communities to develop local strategies that will help Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) families obtain employment leading to economic independence and self-sufficiency. Housing Authorities work with social service agencies, schools, businesses, and other local partners to develop a comprehensive program that gives participating FSS family members the skills and experience to enable them to obtain employment that pays a living wage.
The FSS program is designed specifically to help families who receive rental housing assistance become economically independent within a five year period. The program promotes economic independence of HCV families through counseling and supportive services that enable participants to improve educational and employment status.
How does FSS work?
Family members over 18 must be willing to enroll in educational opportunities or seek and maintain employment. Family members participating in the program will also set short- and long-term goals that will be completed at the end of the five-year period. During this process, the Housing Authority makes referrals for needed services and contacts families quarterly to keep up with their progress. Once there is an increase in earned income, an escrow account will be established for the family, and monthly contributions will begin to accrue in the account for the family to receive at the time of successful completion of the FSS program. The Housing Authority can make referrals to agencies who offer assistance with transportation, child care, personal and career counseling, job referrals, job skills training, credit counseling, and homeownership training. The FSS program offers a wider number of benefits that include achieving goals, being free of government assistance, increased confidence, gained experience, becoming self-reliant, and creating better opportunities for the participant’s family.
The 5 Principles of Self-Sufficiency
- Urgency - We learn dependency by waiting, so the time to become self-sufficient is now.
- Ownership - We will only become successfully self-reliant if we learn to make wise decisions and take responsibility for our own futures.
- Learn-by-doing - Practicing and applying skills in life situations are essential to becoming independent and remaining adaptable in changing economies.
- Lifelong Learning - Learning is a process, not a product.
- Motivation - Focusing on strengths, using positive language, and becoming productive increases self-esteem.