The Family Self-Sufficiency Program: Partner on the Road to Economic Independence

The Family Self-Sufficiency Program: Partner on the Road to Economic Independence

Wasila Amin has big dreams for herself and her four sons: “I want to buy a house with a backyard.”

Ms. Amin, a Section 8 voucher holder, has lived at Stapleton Houses for 14 years. She knows it will take lots of planning and saving to achieve her goal. That’s why she attended a May 19 information session hosted by REES, the New York City Human Resources Administration, and ResCare, NYCHA’s Staten Island Jobs-Plus partner, to learn about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program.

Ms. Amin liked what she learned. FSS is a five-year savings program designed to help Section 8 voucher holders achieve economic independence. Participating families set personal goals to achieve by the end of the contract period; these usually include obtaining employment and becoming free of cash public assistance benefits. Ms. Amin, who works at a nursing home, enrolled in the program and set a goal to obtain her Licensed Practical Nursing certification.

Participants in FSS also receive a savings account that grows as their household income increases, as well as education, career counseling, job training, money management, and placement services. Recent graduates of FSS have used their savings to make a down payment on a home, pay for higher education, and start a business.

Jillian Valdez is an FSS graduate success story – she will be moving into her new house on Long Island with her three children later this year. After four years in the program, she completed it in May with enough money in savings for a down payment to buy a home through the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.

Through the program, Ms. Valdez earned her high school equivalency degree, completed medical assisting training, and began a position at a radiology office, working her way up to managing a staff of 32 people. She also addressed one of her major challenges: learning how to budget and be accountable for her spending. Ms. Valdez is grateful for the program’s step-by-step partnership and tutoring.

“They guided me in every area when I needed help. I used to think I couldn’t make it on my own. I couldn’t picture myself without Food Stamps, welfare, Medicaid. But with the program and all the classes and the help – it gave me the courage to grow and to succeed,” Ms. Valdez explains.

Ms. Amin is excited to follow in Ms. Valdez’s footsteps: building her savings and accessing all the services available for her and her sons.

As an FSS member, Ms. Amin runs no risk of losing her Section 8 voucher and may continue to receive Section 8 assistance after graduating from FSS if she still meets the Section 8 eligibility.

Stapleton Houses Section 8 voucher holders can learn more about FSS and enroll in the program by visiting their local Jobs-Plus site at 30 Bay Street, 4th floor. Section 8 voucher holders interested in learning about the FSS program can contact REES for information at 718-289-8100.

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