Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) is a program established by the Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD) in 1990 by Section 554 of the National Affordable Housing Act. The
FSS program encourages communities to develop local strategies to help assisted
families obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency.
Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) work with 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 objective of the FSS program is to reduce the dependency of families currently
receiving rental assistance through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.
Families participating in the FSS program are provided opportunities for education,
job training, counseling, and other forms of social service assistance to obtain
the education, employment, and business and social skills necessary to achieve self-sufficiency.
The success of FSS families is measured by the number of FSS families who, as a
result of participation in the program, have family members who obtain their first
job, or who obtain higher paying jobs; no longer need benefits from one or more
welfare programs; obtain a high school diploma or higher education degree; or accomplish
similar goals that will assist the family in obtaining economic independence. Ultimately,
FSS families will have an opportunity to own their own home.
The FSS Program provides access to education, job training & employment counseling,
household skill training, entrepreneurial training, budget counseling, and homeownership
counseling. Families who receive HUD assistance through the Section 8 Housing Choice
Voucher program are eligible to participate in the FSS program. The Housing Authority
establishes an FSS program coordinating committee and develops an FSS action plan.
This committee oversees the overall implementation of the FSS program.
Families who are eligible to participate in FSS should contact the Housing Authority's
FSS Coordinator, India Beard, to discuss participation in the FSS program.
The FSS program is available to all families receiving Section 8 Housing Choice
Voucher assistance. Applicants will be selected through a lottery and the PHAs may
screen applicants for interest and motivation to participate, but may not screen
for education, job history, credit rating, marital status or number of children.
An FSS escrow account is established by the Housing Authority
for each participating family. An escrow credit, which is based on the increase
in rent due to an increase in wages, is credited to the account during the term
of the FSS contract. If the FSS participant completes the contract, meets their
objectives and no member of the family is receiving welfare, the balance in the
Escrow account is provided to the Head of the family.
If the Housing Authority terminates the FSS contract, or if the FSS participant
fails to complete the contract and meet their objective, the family FSS escrow funds
are no longer available.
The HATG 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 individual 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 assistance. Participation of
families in the FSS program is voluntary and cannot be a condition of receiving
Although it is hoped that families will no longer need housing assistance upon completion
of the FSS program, some families that complete the program may 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.