The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week awarded more than $3.4 million in Massachusetts to help families living in public housing and those participating in HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program connect with services to further their education, find good jobs, and to set them on a path to self-sufficiency.
It is part of $75 million being awarded nationwide.
Local grants included:
•Boston Housing Authority, $275,040
•Revere Housing Authority, $66,600
•Chelsea Housing Authority, $133,909
•Lynn Housing Authority, $113,713
Funded through HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS), these grants allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to work with social service agencies, community colleges, businesses, and other local partners to help public housing residents and individuals participating in HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program advance their education or gain marketable skills that will help them get a job or advance in their current workplace. As of Fiscal Year 2015, recipients of Project-Based Rental Assistance are also eligible to participate in the program.
“Connecting folks to jobs is an important part of HUD’s mission as the Department of Opportunity,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “By linking people to computer access, job training, childcare, and ultimately financial empowerment, these grants help people who are ready to compete and succeed in the workplace. HUD is proud to give them these tools for self-sufficiency.”
HUD’s FSS Program helps local public housing authorities hire service coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with programs and services that already exist in the local community. These Service Coordinators build relationships with the network of local service providers so as to more effectively serve the residents. The program encourages innovative strategies that link public housing and Housing Choice Voucher assistance with other resources. This broad spectrum of services 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.
Participants in the program sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and that no member of the FSS family is receiving cash welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. Families in the FSS program 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, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including improving credit scores, paying educational expenses, or a down-payment on a home.
HUD is currently conducting a longitudinal study on the program, with the first set of results expected in 2018.