What is the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program?
The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a HUD-Program designed to help participants become economically independent. With the support of local agencies, FSS combines case management, education, job training, and ongoing support to assist participants in improving their lives. The main requirements are a desire to become self-sufficient and a commitment to take the steps necessary to make this happen. This includes, but is not limited to, seeking and maintaining suitable employment or
maintaining enrollment in job training or an educational program.
While participating in FSS, rental assistance offers stability to participants by providing stable and affordable housing, allowing them to invest their energy in other efforts including employment, education and job training. Participation in the FSS Program is completely voluntary. Those who decide to participate enter into a five-year contract and work with an FSS Advisor to identify the skills, education, and/or training needed to become self-sufficient. The FSS Advisor will also identify and remove barriers which could prevent achievement of goals and self-sufficiency. Participants will, with the FSS Advisor’s assistance, develop a plan that outlines specific activities needed to achieve their goals. Participants are then connected to the resources and supportive services needed to help them reach their ultimate goal of self-sufficiency. Throughout the FSS contract term, participants receive ongoing case management services, accountability, encouragement, motivation, moral support and financial incentive to achieve theirs.
What are the Benefits to Participating in the FSS Program?
Through the FSS Program, participants can develop job skills and gain the training needed to achieve economic independence. With the FSS Advisor as your advocate, you and other adult family members will be able to access the resources needed to achieve short-term and long-term goals. These are among the resources you may access through FSS participation:
• Financial management and budgeting skills Career
• counseling and other employment services
• Technical and vocational training
• English as a Second Language courses
• High School Equivalency Test training
• Child care
• Homebuyer education
• Legal services
• Substance abuse treatment and counseling
• Personal and family counseling
• Family planning and parenting skills
• Self-esteem and other self-improvement
• Other relevant services
As you access these services and work to become employed—or if already employed and you work to increase your earned income—FSS will help you build savings through the FSS Escrow Account.
Who Is Eligible for the FSS Program?
To participate in the FSS Program, applicants must be:
• A renter receiving housing assistance through the Asheville Housing Authority
• Head of household 18 years of age or older.
• Determined to make changes in life circumstances.
• Willing to accept challenges and take the necessary steps to obtain better employment, education and/or job training.
• Determined to free themselves and their families from cash welfare assistance.
What’s the Catch?
To successfully complete the FSS Program, participants must reach all goals outlined in their training plans, be suitably employed, and all family members must certify that they have not received cash welfare assistance for at least twelve (12) months prior to completion of contract.
What is the FSS Escrow Account?
The FSS Escrow Account is an interest-bearing savings account which FSS participants can become eligible for when their rent increases due to increases in earned income. As FSS participants work toward their goals and their earned income increases, contributions are made to this account. Contributions are based on a formula established by HUD. Participants receive a check equal to the amount saved in their account after successfully
completing the FSS contract and reaching all their goals outlined in the training plans. The average FSS escrow award through the FSS Program at the Asheville Housing Authority is around $4,500-5,000. However, awards have been made to participants in excess of $20,000! FSS participants use their escrow savings for many things including down-payment and other expenses associated with homeownership.
Can the FSS Program Assist Me in Becoming a Homeowner?
Absolutely! If one of your life goals is to purchase your own home, FSS can help prepare you for homeownership! Through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, your voucher provides the option for first-time homeowners to apply their housing assistance toward their monthly mortgage payments. Through the FSS Program, you will be prepared for the home buying process through financial and credit counseling as well as homebuyer education.