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.

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Success Stories

When I signed up for the Family Self-Sufficiency program I had a bachelor’s degree from UNC-CH. However, at the time I was not employed and receiving unemployment benefits and child support. I was not satisfied with this situation because I felt that I could not provide for my family. In fact, I was scared and felt pretty hopeless. Luckily, I did possess a reliable source of transportation. So, I had a way to get to work and it was paid for. Also, I had child care in place for my two younger children and my oldest daughter was in high school. After enrolling in FSS, it took me about four months to obtain my goal of obtaining a decent paying job. I was thrilled to be back at work so quickly. Because of the FSS program, my hope is at an all-time high, and I am more confident in my ability to take care of my family. I have a good paying full-time job. My transportation situation is still good. My family size has increased because I had a baby. However, I am able to budget my money and take care of our financial needs. I am very excited about receiving the money in my escrow account because I plan to use the money to finish paying off the land I am buying. I also plan to use the money in another program in which I am a participant---the IDA Success Savings Program---which will aid in the purchase or construction of my first home. Hopefully, soon all my hard work, prayers and planning will pay off and my family and I will be living in our own home! - T.R., FSS Graduate
Here I was eighteen and out on my own with a baby. I was barely making it working part-time at $5.15 an hour. I really wanted to do better for my son and myself. When I went to apply for rental assistance [with Northwestern Regional Housing Authority], the manager informed me of a program call FSS, Family Self-Sufficiency. I really wanted to better myself so I had goals and what a great opportunity to put back money without even seeing it. It took me approximately two years to obtain my GED and start back to school. I found childcare for my son and started my college education. I then met more of my goals by completing my first degree at Wilkes Community College. Once I finished this degree I wanted to meet the biggest goal I had to obtain my bachelor’s degree. I will have my degree on July 31st, which is my birthday. Now, I am a wife and mother of two beautiful boys. I am employed as a social worker. I also own my own home and plan to use my escrow money to apply to the principle of my house. I would like to let other families know that goals are not impossible if you set reasonable ones. It is also important to make sure the goals you set are things you really want to complete and obtain. - C.W., FSS Graduate
Without this [FSS] program I have no idea where we would be today, nor do I want to imagine it. I am glad I have set an example for my son that you can strive to do the things you have always dreamed of. I can only hope that other families assisted by the FSS program are as satisfied as I have been. The best accomplishment is to tell people, yes I have been to college and graduated with an associate’s degree in office system technology with a 3.7 grade average. Now I have a wonderful job, which I love, and feel right at home. I have learned a new respect for money saving and budgeting so that hopefully I will have a nest egg to fall back on as well as for the future. I am on a good path to a very bright future thanks to all the help I have had. - D.G., FSS Graduate
I feel that I have become a better and more responsible person through the course of the FSS program. Now at the end of the program I have a job that I have been at for two years now, reliable transportation and I feel more educated in how to be a home owner, managing my money and staying on a budget and maintaining my credit. - B.T., FSS Graduate
When meeting my goals became difficult, what prevented me most from giving up was my strong desire to beat the odds. I refused to be a stereotype, and I wanted to become successful to both set an example for my son, and to provide him with a wonderful future. I think I changed by being in this [FSS] program because I was given a chance for success. Were it not for the assistance I received when I needed it most, I would still be having the same struggles I had several years ago. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given to have affordable housing, so I could continue pursuit of an education. If I were to give my advice to another struggling family, I would tell them this, nothing worth having comes easy. You have to work very hard for everything you want in your life. I would tell them to take advantage of the opportunities they are given to work towards a better life. I believe we reap what we sow, and I don’t believe success just ‘happens;’ those who want it, earn it. - K.M., 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