The Section 8/HCVP Family Self Sufficiency Program (FSS) links the Section 8/ Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) tenant-based vouchers with both private and public resources, helping families access job training, educational services and other assistance over a five year period. The goal of FSS is to eliminate the clients' need for public assistance and increase their economic stability. FSS encourages participants to enter the workforce, as well as to invest in their own futures by facilitating access to education and training resources. As a Moving to Work Agency, in 2014 DHCD will implement a number of innovative adjustments to the FSS program to make it an even more effective program. These adjustments have been reviewed and approved by HUD.
DHCD’s FSS program is the seventh largest in the country, and one of the largest asset development programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The program changes being introduced will offer FSS participants greater flexibility and improved opportunities to increase their financial asset base and family stability. Among the changes are: access to Jump Start Funds to overcome financial obstacles to entering the workforce; incentives to start and complete Job Training and/or Post-Secondary education; a bonus for FSS graduates who chose to leave the HCV program for home ownership or the private rental market; and other changes designed to streamline access to escrow funds. DHCD has also capped the amount of escrow a participant can earn at $25,000 in the belief that the changes just described will off-set any minimal negative impact of this cap. It should be noted that these program changes are unique to DHCD, and are not part of FSS programs at any other Public Housing Authority.
DHCD's Division of Public Housing and Rental Assistance, which administers this program, has the responsibility for regulatory and administrative oversight of all state and federally-aided rental assistance programs which address the needs of low- and moderate-income families, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
How it works:
As part of their role in administering the FSS program, Public housing agencies are required to develop extensive networks of local and regional resources to connect FSS participants with the support they need to succeed in the workforce. Participants work with FSS staff to complete a Needs Assessment and an Individual Service and Training Plan that outlines a series of goals that will be met during the five year program.
Participants sign a five year "Contract of Family Participation" that is tailored for each participant and reflects their service plan. This contract outlines the participant's goals and describes the various work-related activities in which the participant agrees to participate. The participant is allowed to modify their goals as they gain more perspective on their future and gain more work experience.
As the participant's income and rent share increases, an escrow account is established by the public housing agency in order to set aside funds for the participant at the end of the program. Upon successful completion of the program, the participant can use these funds for any purpose, such as home ownership, starting a business, paying off loans, or going back to school. The participant is also able to access their escrow funds during the five year contract term as long as it is for work-related purposed, such as paying car insurance, buying a uniform or enrolling in a job-related course. The escrow funds are available at graduation for participants who have met the goals of their contract and are employed and not receiving public assistance. Successful FSS graduates are still eligible to receive housing assistance.
Who is eligible:
Current Section 8/HCVP program participants in good standing.
Each DHCD Section 8 contractor routinely markets its Family Self Sufficiency program to current program participants. All participants are eligible to participate, provided they agree to sign a five year Contract of Family Participation. This contract outlines the various activities which the participant needs to complete in order to develop the skills, education and training necessary to secure and sustain employment. The participant takes an active role in the design and future modification of their plan.
For further information:
Please contact either the local housing authority in a community of your choice, or contact the Bureau of Federal Rental Assistance at (617) 573-1150.
Please refer to the Resource Locator for this information.
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