Northwestern Regional Housing Authority

The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious

Family Self Sufficiency

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.

Click Here to Watch a Short Video

Success Stories

When we started the [Family Self Sufficiency] program, we looked into ways to become a home owner. We sent in an application for Habitat for Humanity. We were selected to be a Partner. We have attended 4 homeowner classes, Consumer Credit Counseling, Home Maintenance Household Budgeting, and Neighborhood Relations. We also did 500 sweat equity hours. Our house is almost complete. I want to thank you for all the help and support that your program has helped with our success. I hope that more people take the program on. It can help their dreams to become a reality. Thank you.
Overall, I have changed as a person after participating in this program. I have become more educated, which has opened my mindset about many things as well as enhanced my career opportunities. I truly have become self sufficient, and I haven't needed any cash assistance during my enrollment. It has meant so much to me that I now think of ways that I can help others do what I have been able to accomplish. I am thankful every day that I have had the opportunity to be part of the [Northwestern Regional Housing Authority] Family Self-Sufficiency program. It has truly changed my life in a positive way.
I enrolled in the FSS program, starting out from the very bottom. My goals included: obtain daycare, obtain employment, enroll in college. During this entire process, I had to overcome several obstacles, coming to terms with enrolling my son in a ‘not so good daycare,’ being away from him so much, juggling paying bills, being a mom, a housekeeper, a student, etc. Slowly I began to achieve my short and long-term goals through the FSS program. My advice to other single parents is to get up and meet your goals. Set them, achieve them, and make more. Your kids deserve it. My son deserves a mom who doesn’t have to borrow money to pay her electric bill or buy a gallon of milk. Education is something no one can ever take away from you. Had I not participated in this program, I don’t know where I would be. The FSS program has changed me into a much stronger and educated woman. One day at a time, I know I can accomplish anything. - K.W., FSS Graduate
I quit high school my senior year and moved to Ashe County when I was pregnant with my oldest son, who is now 5 years old. Since then I have 3 kids total. In this [FSS] program, I had to set up goals. My goals consisted of going back to school and to become a homeowner. This made me start thinking about our future. I wanted to complete my goals. After I set my goals, I went back to school in the adult high school program and received my high school diploma. Shortly after, I went for my CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and Phlebotomy. Now, I am going to college to get my Associate in Arts, graduating in May 2009, hoping to transfer to Appalachian State University to further my education to become an elementary education teacher. Now we are about to move into our new house that Charles Harris is building for us. We are so excited; the kids have no idea what’s going on because we have kept it a secret from the beginning. I can’t wait to see their faces the first time they walk in the house. In participating in the Family Self-Sufficiency program this has made me 100% positive towards life for my family, especially my 3 boys. - R.W., FSS Graduate
After 19 years in a bad marriage, I got divorced. I found the [Northwestern Regional] Housing Authority a year later. When I signed up for the FSS program I had taken a couple of college classes, and I drove a very undependable car. My daughter was 13 years old. My son, who lived on his own, was 19. I was unemployed at the time and was getting by on child support. I was not satisfied with this arrangement. I wanted a college degree. I wanted to be better able to help my children. After enrolling in the FSS program and getting started on my goals, I was able to graduate from Wilkes Community College with an associate’s degree within 2 ½ years. The most challenging obstacle for me was learning to believe in myself. If it had not been for the FSS program I would still be struggling to get my degree. The goal that I am most proud of is becoming a published author. Many unexpected things arose during my path to self-sufficiency, but the most difficult one by far was the untimely death of my beloved 23-year-old son. My heart still grieves. My children were (and are) the inspiration that kept me from giving up. My daughter is now a sophomore at ASU. I am employed full-time as a pharmacy tech. I now have a good, reliable car. I plan on using the funds [in my escrow account] to help my daughter through college. By using the funds in this manner I am paying into the future to ensure a better life for my daughter and my future grandchildren. The only way I think the FSS program could be made better is to get the word out and make people aware of this awesome opportunity. I would never have stayed in a bad marriage for 19 years if I had known there was someone willing to give me a hand up---not a hand out. - M.L., FSS Graduate


869 Highway 105 Extension
Suites 10 & 11
PO Box 2510
Boone, North Carolina 28607


Phone: 828-264-6683
Fax: 828-264-0272

Equal Housing Opportunity