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Nursing the Dream

The American Dream comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes.

Not surprisingly, many who seek help from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are hoping to buy their first home. And even in the current economic downturn, thanks to assistance from HUD and its partners, every year thousands of families are making that dream come true.

But others dream of finishing high school or going to college. Of acquiring a skill or starting. Or of becoming, as was true for Michelle Daniels of Twin Falls, becoming a nurse. It was almost her mother's dream, but it never happened.

For Michelle, it will happen. Even if she does face days, notes the Idaho Housing & Finance Association, that "start early and end late" and require constant "juggling of school, studying, work as a CNA at St. Luke's, and time with her daughter." But, she says confidently, "I will get there."

In fact, she's well on her way. A student at the College of Southern Idaho, she expects to complete studies by December to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and to become a Registered Nurse by next year. Her success, says Association Senior Vice President Julie Williams, "illustrates that through hard work and dedication anyone can achieve their goals," said Julie Williams, IHFA Senior Vice President.

But it also demonstrates the importance of helping hands. Like those extended by the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of the National Association of Redevelopment and Housing Officials. It awarded Danielle a scholarship that has given her $1,000 a year toward her college expenses.

Or like the helping hands extended by the Association's Family Self Sufficiency Program. Every year HUD awards between $450,000 and $600,000 in Family Self Sufficiency Funds to the Association and other housing authorities in Idaho to enable them to help heads-of-household like Danielle who receive a HUD rental assistance voucher to achieve their dreams. Right now, for example, more than 200 families are in the Association's program.

Participants in a Family Self Sufficiency program sign a contract that requires the head of the household will get a job and the family will no longer receive welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. As the family's income rises, a portion of that increased income is deposited in an interest-bearing escrow account. If the family completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including a down payment on a home, paying educational expenses, starting a business, paying back debts or, like Danielle, becoming a nurse.

"HUD and our partners like the Idaho Housing and Finance Association or Pacific Northwest NAHRO provide the tools that help make dreams come true," said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride.  "But the dream itself is in the eyes of the dreamer and accomplishing it depends almost entirely on the drive and the hard work of the Family Self Sufficiency participant. Like many before and, I'm sure, many after her, Danielle is a perfect example of how important it is to give people the chance, the tools and the resources they need to be what they want to be."


Content Archived: December 2, 2013

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