What is the Family Self-Sufficiency Program?

Apr 1, 2024

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a vital initiative aimed at empowering families in the low-income voucher program to achieve economic independence and stability. Established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the FSS Program operates within the framework of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and Public Housing Agencies. Its primary objective is to assist low-income families in breaking the cycle of poverty by providing them with the necessary tools and resources to increase their earnings and reduce their reliance on public assistance.

At its core, the Family Self-Suffiency (FSS) Program is designed to address the multifaceted needs of participating families. It offers a comprehensive array of services, including job training, educational assistance, financial literacy programs, childcare support, and counseling services. By addressing both the immediate and long-term needs of families, the program educates and assists members to become financially self-sufficient and independent.

The main goal of the FSS Program is to help families break the cycle of poverty and reduce their reliance on public assistance by providing them with the necessary tools, resources, and support. It aims to empower participants to increase their earnings, obtain stable employment, further their education, and achieve other personal and financial goals.

Resources & Rules and Regulations for the FSS Program

The FSS Program is governed by regulations outlined by HUD. These regulations establish the framework and guidelines for the operation of the program. Additionally, there are various resources available to assist participants and program administrators in understanding and navigating the FSS Program.

Here are some key resources and rules and regulations for the FSS Program:

HUD’s FSS Program Regulations (24 CFR Part 984): The regulations governing the FSS Program are outlined in 24 CFR Part 984 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations cover eligibility requirements, program administration, participant responsibilities, escrow accounts, and other aspects of the program.

HUD’s FSS Program Guidebook: HUD provides a comprehensive guidebook that provides detailed information on the FSS Program, including program requirements, participant services, escrow accounts, reporting requirements, and other key aspects of the program. The guidebook is a valuable resource for program administrators and participants alike.

Local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs): PHAs administer the FSS Program at the local level and can provide information on program requirements, eligibility criteria, and available services. Participants can contact their local PHA to learn more about the FSS Program and how to apply.

FSS Program Coordinators: Each PHA has designated FSS Program coordinators who are responsible for overseeing the program and assisting participants. These coordinators can provide guidance on program rules and regulations, help participants develop action plans, and connect them with supportive services.

Training and Technical Assistance: HUD and other organizations offer training and technical assistance resources for FSS Program administrators and participants. These resources may include webinars, workshops, training manuals, and online courses designed to enhance understanding of program requirements and best practices.

HUD Exchange: The HUD Exchange website serves as a centralized resource for information on HUD programs, including the FSS Program. It provides access to program guidance, policy documents, training materials, and other resources relevant to FSS Program administrators and participants.

FSS Program Notices and Guidance: HUD periodically issues notices and other guidance documents related to the FSS Program. These documents provide updates on program requirements, policy changes, and best practices for program implementation.

Participants and administrators involved in the FSS Program can consult these resources to gain a better understanding of program rules and regulations, access valuable information and support services, and ensure compliance with program requirements. Additionally, they can seek assistance from local PHAs, FSS Program coordinators, and training and technical assistance providers to navigate the program effectively.

Program Partners

The success of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program often depends on the collaboration and partnership between various organizations, agencies, and stakeholders throughout your county. These program partners play essential roles in providing resources, services, and support to FSS participants.

Here are some key program partners of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program:

Public Housing Agencies (PHAs): PHAs are the primary administrators of the FSS Program at the local level. They oversee program operations, determine participant eligibility, provide case management services, and coordinate with other program partners to support participant success.

Employers and Workforce Development Agencies: Employers and workforce development agencies play a crucial role in helping FSS participants secure employment and advance their careers. They may offer job training programs, job placement services, skill development opportunities, and employment resources to FSS participants.

Educational Institutions: Colleges, universities, vocational schools, and other educational institutions can provide FSS participants with access to educational opportunities, such as adult education classes, vocational training programs, certificate programs, and degree programs. These institutions help participants improve their skills, qualifications, and earning potential.

Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofit organizations often partner with PHAs to provide supportive services to FSS participants. These organizations may offer financial literacy classes, counseling services, childcare assistance, transportation assistance, housing counseling, and other essential services to help participants achieve their self-sufficiency goals.

Financial Institutions: Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions may partner with the FSS Program to provide financial education, banking services, credit-building programs, and access to affordable financial products to FSS participants. These partnerships help participants manage their finances effectively and build assets over time.

Community-Based Organizations: Community-based organizations play a vital role in connecting FSS participants with local resources, support networks, and community services. They may offer a wide range of services, including food assistance, healthcare services, legal assistance, housing assistance, and other support services to help participants address their basic needs and overcome barriers to self-sufficiency.

Local Government Agencies: Local government agencies, such as departments of social services, housing departments, and workforce development agencies, may partner with PHAs to support FSS participants. These agencies may provide funding, resources, referrals, and support services to help participants achieve their self-sufficiency goals.

Faith-Based Organizations: Faith-based organizations, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples, can play a valuable role in supporting FSS participants. They may offer community outreach programs, volunteer opportunities, spiritual guidance, and social support networks to help participants on their journey toward self-sufficiency.

By collaborating with these program partners, the FSS Program can provide participants with a comprehensive network of support, resources, and services to help them achieve economic independence and improve their quality of life.

Apply for the Family Self-Sufficiency Program through PMHA

To apply for the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, please call the FSS Coordinator, Tiffani Toth, at 330-297-1489 ext. 223 or email Tiffani at ttoth@portagehousing.org. Check out our programs here to learn more about how PMHA helps those assisted under the Voucher program to achieve economic independence by linking them with supportive services and resources provided by PMHA, social services, and other partner agencies.

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