HUD Awards Nearly 600,000 dollars to help Low-Income Residents in Minnesota find employment and Job Training
In an effort to help public housing and Housing Choice Voucher residents in Minnesota find jobs and improve their education, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded nearly $600,000 to housing agencies across the state through the Family Self-SufficiencyProgram (FSS).
HUD’s FSS Program promotes the development of local strategies to connect Housing Choice Voucher recipients and families living in public housing with public and private resources to increase earned income and financial literacy, reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance, and make progress toward economic independence and self-sufficiency. Read more about the local impact of the grants announced today.
In 2014, Congress combined funding for the Public Housing FSS and Housing Choice Voucher FSS programs into one program serving both populations. The grants announced today will allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to work with social service agencies, community colleges, businesses, and other local partners to help public housing residents and Housing Choice Voucher Program participants to increase their education and/or gain marketable skills that will enable them to obtain employment and advance in their current work.
"As the Department of Opportunity, HUD is supporting folks with job training and computer access,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These grants will link people to the tools they need to compete and succeed in the workplace and become self-sufficient."
"These Family self-sufficient grants will help empower individuals and their families to get them on a pathway towards prosperity to help them reach their full-potential," said Antonio R. Riley, HUD Midwest Regional Administrator.
The FSS grant helps PHAs to hire service coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with programs and services that already exist in the local community. Service coordinators also build relationships with the network of local service providers so as to more effectively serve the residents. The program encourages innovative strategies that link public housing and Housing Choice Voucher assistance with other resources to enable participating families to find jobs, increase earned income, reduce or eliminate the need for rental and/or welfare assistance, and make progress toward achieving economic independence and self-sufficiency.
Program participants sign a five-year contract that requires the head of household to obtain employment and that no member of the FSS family is receiving cash welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. An interest-bearing escrow account is established by the PHA on behalf of FSS participants. The amount credited to the family's escrow account is based on increases in the family's earned income during the term of the FSS contract. If the family successfully completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds, which can be used for any purpose, including improving credit scores, paying educational expenses, or a down-payment on a home.
The FSS Program is a long-standing resource for increasing economic security and self-sufficiency. HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research issued Evaluation of FSS Program: Prospective Study in 2011 that evaluated the effectiveness of the FSS Program. Conducted from 2005 to 2009, the study showed that financial benefits are substantial for participants who remain in and complete the program. An earlier study found that individuals who participated in the FSS program fared better financially than those who did not enroll in the program. HUD is currently conducting a longitudinal study on the program, with the first set of results expected in 2018.