U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson today awarded $69,380 to the U.S. Virgin Islands Housing Authority to continue helping public housing residents participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program and/or reside in public housing to increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on public assistance and rental subsidies.
Nationwide, these grants renew HUD’s support of 689 public housing authorities through its Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS). HUD’s FSS Program helps local public housing authorities to hire service coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with programs and services that already exist in the local community.
The program encourages innovative strategies that link housing assistance with a broad spectrum of services that will 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 housing self-sufficiency.
“One of the most important things we can do as public servants is to help HUD-assisted families achieve their dreams,” said Secretary Carson. “Working with our local partners, HUD is connecting families to educational opportunities, job training, childcare and other resources that allow them to get higher paying jobs and, ultimately, become self-sufficient.”
“These funds fuel what I have seen firsthand that provide innovative and impactful life skills training, childcare and higher education and vocational opportunities, all of which change lives for the better,” said HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett.
FSS participants sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and that no member of the household will receive certain types of public assistance at the end of the five-year term. These families have an interest-bearing escrow account established for them. 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, it receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including debt reduction, in order to improve credit scores, educational expenses or a down payment on a home.
The average household income of FSS participants has nearly tripled during their time in the program, from $10,000 at the time of entry to more than $27,000 upon program completion.