What is the FSS Program?
FSS is a program that enables HUD-assisted families to increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on welfare assistance and rental subsidies. Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) work in collaboration with a Program Coordinating Committee (PCC) to secure commitments of public and private resources for the operation of the FSS program, to develop the PHA's FSS Action Plan (the FSS policy framework), and to implement the program.
How does the program work?
Once an eligible family is selected to participate in the program, the PHA, and the head of each participating family execute a FSS Contract of Participation that specifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The term of the FSS contract is generally 5 years, but it may be extended for another 2 years by the PHA for good cause. The FSS contract also incorporates the family's individual training and services plan (ITSP). The ITSP is the document that records the plan for the family. That is, the series of intermediate and long-term goals and the steps the family needs to take - and the services and resources they may need to access - to achieve those goals. Some of the services coordinated through the program include childcare, transportation, education, job training, employment counseling, financial literacy, and homeownership counseling, among others. Services are generally not provided by the PHA, but rather outsourced to service providers in the community. An interest-bearing escrow account is established by the PHA for each participating family.
Any increases in the family's rent because of increased earned income during the family's participation in the program result in a credit to the family's escrow account. Once a family graduates from the program, they may access the escrow and use it for any purpose.
Who is eligible to participate in the FSS program?
The FSS program is available to Public Housing (PH) residents, Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program participants, residents of NAHASDA-assisted housing, and, recently, residents of project-based rental assistance (PBRA) projects.
What are the participant's responsibilities under the FSS contract of participation?
The FSS contract requires that the family comply with the lease, that all FSS family members (not just family members who elected to participate in FSS) are welfare-free for the 12 consecutive months before the FSS contract is completed, and that the head of the FSS family (the same as the head of household for rent and income eligibility purposes) seek and maintain suitable employment. Noncompliance with the FSS contract without good cause may result in termination from the FSS program or withholding or termination of supportive services. Termination (or exit) from the FSS program may not result in termination of the family's rental.
What is an escrow account?
An interest-bearing account established by the PHA on behalf of the FSS family where deposits are made throughout the duration of the family's participation in the FSS program if and when a family's rent increases as a result of increased earned income of the FSS family.
Can a family access the funds of its escrow account before the family successfully completes the program?
The PHA may make a portion of the escrow account available to the family during the term of the contract if the PHA determines that the family has fulfilled certain interim goals established in the contract and requires a portion of the FSS escrow account funds for purposes consistent with the contract of participation.
When does a family receive all the funds in its FSS escrow account?
Generally, when the family has fulfilled all of its FSS obligations under the contract on or before the expiration of the contract (including the obligation to be welfare-free for the 12 consecutive months before the FSS contract is completed) and the head of the family certifies (on or before the FSS contract expiration date) that no family member is a recipient of welfare assistance
Under what circumstances can escrow account funds be forfeited?
An FSS family will forfeit its escrow account if the contract of participation is terminated in accordance with the regulations, the family is still receiving welfare at the expiration of the contract term, or the contract was not completed at the end of the contract term.
Tomeka Edwards, Neighborhood Services Coordinator
Kimberly White, Housing Counselor
Stephenie McLean, HCV FSS Coordinator
Kimberly Stanley, HCV FSS Coordinator
Shakina Wrighton, Housing Counseling Program Assistant
Adrian Franco, FSS Coordinator