Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS)

What is the FSS program?

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is a voluntary program available to Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) participants. The purpose of the program is to assist families to improve their economic situations and reduce their dependence on welfare programs.

Who can participate?

Participants must be receiving HCV rental assistance. FSS is for those people who are unemployed or those who are already employed but wanting to increase their income.

What do participants do?

Families commit to making changes in their lives when they enter this program. Each FSS participant works with an FSS case manager to create a five-year plan that includes employment goals and identifies training or education needs. The FSS family is responsible for:

  • Working towards completion of identified goals
  • Becoming free of public assistance for one consecutive year before the end of the contract
  • Providing information on program progress
  • Complying with lease terms
  • Living in the Housing Authority jurisdiction for at least 12 months

FSS staff then works with the family to identify locate and arrange for the services that they need to accomplish these goals. The Housing Authority is responsible for:

  • Obtaining supportive services from public and private resources
  • Coordinating availability of resources for participating families
  • Establishing an escrow account for families when credit is earned
  • Determine if interim goals have been met for partial withdrawal of escrow monies
  • Determine if the family has completed the contract

What is the FSS escrow account?

As FSS participants succeed in raising their family income, the portion of their monthly income contributed toward their rent payment also increases. The Housing Authority sets up an escrow account for the family and HUD then deposits a percentage of this rent increase into an interest-bearing escrow account. If the family meets its goals within five years and has received no welfare assistance for one year, they are eligible to receive the funds in the escrow account.

How successful is the program?

FSS participants have:

  • Earned GED/Diplomas
  • Earned training certificates and/or Degrees
  • Obtained employment
  • Started their own businesses
  • Ended welfare dependence
  • Built escrow accounts with an average monthly deposit of $200.00 and an average balance of $2,000.00
  • Become homeowners

A community partnership

The FSS program maintains community input through an advisory board called the Planning Coordinating Committee. This board is comprised of persons from public and private sectors, local government, FSS participants, business and community members. This group works to identify public and private service groups and resources, guide program policy, identify service gaps, recommend new services, maintain positive working relationships with service providers, and maintain ongoing outreach to agencies in the community to provide new services.

How do I find out more about FSS?

For more information please contact:

Mary Abboud
Housing Authority
410 E Washington Street
Iowa City, Iowa 52240
319-887-6061