Home | En Español | Contact Us | A to Z 

2000 Best Practice Symposium

Workshop Session Summary:
Public Housing’s Self-Sufficiency Programs

Public Housing’s Self-Sufficiency Programs


Milan Ozdinec, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, HUD


Ms. Diana Pack, Kentucky State Office, HUD
Ms. Nancy Scull, FSS Coordinator, Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County MD
Ms. Donna Robinson, Volunteer Mentoring of Montgomery County, MD
Mr. Ron Ziegler, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs

The session focused on HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program, which promotes local strategies to enable Section 8 and/or public housing families to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency. This session focused on how the program works, recent changes to FSS, and local FSS success stories.

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is an innovative, federally mandated program that helps Section 8 and Public Housing residents achieve economic independence over a five year period. The program is completely voluntary and is supported by donations, grants, and volunteers. Participants work with case managers to assess their strengths, identify barriers, set goals and achieve them. The FSS Program also allows participants access to the resources needed to develop job skills and ultimately achieve economic independence. Furthermore, FSS participants who increase their earned income can to place a portion of any rent increases into an escrow savings account. When the participant achieves their goal of self-sufficiency (i.e., when they no longer need welfare assistance, food stamps, or medical assistance) within the contact period, they will graduate and receive the money in the escrow savings account (plus any interest earned). Recent changes to the program mandated by the Public Housing Reform Act (PHRA) include reserved funding allocations, redefinition of the term "welfare assistance," and changes in portability.

New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) FSS Program has achieved 92 percent of its required 1,325 FSS participants. A total of 1,136 families are currently active and 65 participants have completed the program successfully since October of 1999. The DCA expects to achieve 100 percent of its requirement this fiscal year.

The Montgomery County Housing Opportunity Commission’s 5 year (FSS) Program uses volunteer mentors to help low-income, usually single-parent, families who live in Housing Opportunities Housing Facilities, achieve self sufficiency in five years. Mentors are trained and asked to make a one year commitment to spend just an hour a week (supervised by a professional case manager) to help the head of the household plan and achieve long term goals. The primary objective is to find full-time employment and to move off temporary cash assistance. Since 1993, the Program has more than 100 mentors and has served more than 440 families. Of that a total of 187 have graduated, 54 of who have purchased homes. The average earned income of FSS graduates has increased from $6,618 to $25,365 annually, 88 percent have increased their earned incomes and most are setting aside money in an escrow savings account. Thirty-one percent of the participants have completed college, technical training, or GED and 80 percent of all currently enrolled FSS families are employed.

Return to Summary Main Page

Return to Best Practices

Content Archived: April 20, 2011

FOIA Privacy Web Policies and Important Links [logo: Fair Housing and Equal 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112 TTY: (202) 708-1455