What is the FSS Program?
The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program is an employment and savings incentive program for low-income families that have Section 8 vouchers or live in public housing.
FSS is a program that enables HUD-assisted families to increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on welfare assistance and rental subsidies.
The FSS program has two main components: case management and an escrow account. Families receive case-management services to identify employment goals and to help them access skill-building and supportive service programs available in the community to help achieve these goals. As a family’s earnings increase, the PHA deposits the increased rental charges that a family pays into an escrow account. Escrow funds may be used to pay for college or vocational education, for work-related expenses such as car repairs or work clothing, or for homeownership. Families that complete the program may withdraw
How does the program work?
Once an eligible family is selected to participate in the program, the PHA, and the head of each participating family execute a FSS Contract of Participation that specifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The term of the FSS contract is generally 5 years, but it may be extended for another 2 years by the PHA for good cause.
The FSS contract also incorporates the family’s individual training and services plan (ITSP). The ITSP is the document that records the plan for the family. That is, the series of intermediate and long-term goals and the steps the family needs to take – and the services and resources they may need to access – to achieve those goals.
An interest-bearing escrow account is established by the PHA for each participating family. 2 Any increases in the family’s rent as a result of increased earned income during the family’s participation in the program result in a credit to the family’s escrow account. Once a family graduates from the program, they may access the escrow and use it for.
Who is eligible to participate in the FSS program?
The FSS program is available to Public Housing (PH) residents, Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program participants, residents of NAHASDA- assisted housing, and, recently, residents of project-based rental assistance (PBRA) projects.
What are the participant’s responsibilities under the FSS contract of participation?
The FSS contract requires that the family comply with the lease, that all FSS family members (not just family members who elected to participate in FSS) are welfare-free for the 12 consecutive months before the FSS contract is completed, and that the head of the FSS family (the same as the head of household for rent and income eligibility purposes) seek and maintain suitable employment.
Noncompliance with the FSS contract without good cause may result in termination from the FSS program, or withholding or termination of supportive services. Termination (or exit) from the FSS program may not result in termination of the family’s rental.
Can families be required to participate in the FSS program?
Participation of families in the FSS program is voluntary and cannot be a condition of receipt of assistance under the HCV or PH programs
Can a family continue to receive housing assistance after completion of the FSS contract?
While one of the objectives of the program is to reduce the dependency of low-income families on federal, state, and local housing assistance programs; most families that complete the program will still need and may continue to receive assistance for housing.
What is the history of the FSS program?
FSS was established in 1990 by section 554 of the National Affordable Housing Act, which amended Title I of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 by adding Section 23 for the FSS program.
Enacted by Congress in 1990, the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS)
What regulations cover this program?
FSS regulations are found at 24 CFR Part 984.
How Does the FSS Program Benefit Participants?
Asset Accumulation Employment and Earnings
For additional information on the FSS program, click here.