1. What is the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program?
Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is a U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that encourages the development of local strategies to help housing voucher assisted families to obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency. The Housing Authority of the City of Arlington (AHA) works with welfare agencies, schools, businesses, and local support service agencies, non-profit agencies and businesses 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.
2. How do families apply to the FSS program?
Families that are selected to receive a housing choice voucher or who currently participate in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program should discuss participation in the FSS program with their Housing Specialist at the AHA.
3. What is the history of the FSS program?
The FSS program was established in 1990 by section 554 of the National Affordable Housing Act. It is a successor program to the HUD project self-sufficiency and operation bootstrap programs.
4. What services are provided through the FSS program?
FSS program services may include, but are not limited to:
- child care
- budgeting and household finance
- job training and employment counseling
- household skill training
- homeownership counseling
5. What families are eligible to participate in the housing choice voucher FSS program?
Families who receive assistance under the housing choice voucher program are eligible to participate in the FSS program.
6. Who administers the FSS program?
The FSS program is administered locally by public housing agencies. The AHA administers the FSS program In Arlington.
7. How does AHA obtain funding from HUD to administer the FSS program?
The AHA relies on its own resources to operate FSS program. However, under the authority of annual appropriations acts, HUD has been able to provide some funding for FSS program coordinators to assist in operating housing choice voucher FSS programs.
8. What requirements must AHA meet to operate the FSS program?
To operate the FSS program, AHA must establish and maintain an FSS program coordinating committee and develop an FSS action plan. The FSS program coordinating committee assists in the development of the action plan and FSS program policies, obtain public and private supportive services funding and oversee the overall implementation of the FSS program.The FSS action plan describes the policies and procedures to operate an FSS program. The plan also provides an estimate on the number of eligible families expected to participate and establishes their supportive service needs. HUD must approve the action plan.
9. Can AHA require families to participate in FSS?
No. Participation of families in the FSS program is voluntary and cannot be condition of receiving assistance under the housing choice voucher program.
10. What requirements must a family meet to participate in the FSS program?
The AHA and the head of each participating family execute an FSS contract of participation that specifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The 5-year FSS contract specifies goals and services for each family. Family members must fulfill all requirements in order to obtain full benefits.The FSS contract requires that the family comply with the lease, that all family members become independent of welfare, and that the head of the family seek and maintain suitable employment. Possible sanctions for noncompliance with the FSS contract are termination from the FSS program, forfeiture of the FSS escrow account, withholding or termination of supportive services, and termination of housing choice voucher assistance.
11. What is the FSS escrow account?
An interest-bearing FSS escrow account is established by the AHA for each participating family. An escrow credit, based on increases in earned income of the family, is credited to this account by the AHA during the term of the FSS contract. The AHA may make a portion of this escrow account available to the family during the term of the contract to enable the family to complete an interim goal such as education.If the family completes the contract and no member of the family is receiving welfare, the amount of the FSS account is paid to the head of the family. If the AHA terminates the FSS contract, or if the family fails to complete the contract before its expiration, the family’s FSS escrow funds are forfeited.
12. What are the responsibilities of the FSS Program Coordinators?
FSS Program Coordinators assure that FSS program participants are linked to the supportive services they need to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
13. Does a family have to give up its rental assistance after the family completes its FSS contract?
No. Although it is hoped that families will no longer need housing assistance upon completion of the FSS program, some families that complete the program will still need assistance for housing. The law provides that a family may complete its FSS contract and receive its escrow while continuing to receive housing assistance under the voucher program.
14. What regulations cover this program?
Regulations are found at 24 CFR 984