Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) FAQ's

What is the Family Self- Sufficiency (FSS) Program?Family Self -Sufficiency (FSS) is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program designed to assist families with utilizing community resources that will lead to economic independence.  The FSS Program utilizes housing as a stabilizing force, while enabling families to invest their energies in efforts that would lead to self sufficiency such as education, job training, counseling and employment.  The program objective is to assist families in obtaining employment that will allow them to become self-sufficient and not dependent on welfare assistance. Families enrolling in FSS work with their case manager to develop goals that will be achievable within a 5 year period. The goals are placed on a contract which is signed by the head of household and a representative of the housing authority. The goals must include seeking and maintaining employment and independent of welfare assistance for 12 months prior to the contract expiration.  Other FSS goals may include but are not limited to education, job readiness, career counseling, homeownership, financial education and substance abuse counseling. The FSS goals are outlined on the contract in the Individual Training and Services Plan (ITSP).  As the family meets goals and completes the contact, they become eligible to receive the funds from escrow account. The amount credited to the escrow account is based upon increases in the family’s income from employment during the term of enrollment. What is an escrow account?Escrow is an interest bearing account established by the housing authority for each participating family.  An escrow credit is based on increases in income from employment only.  FSS families must increase their earned income in order for credits to be applied to the escrow account. Who is responsible for monitoring this program?The FSS Program is a HUD sponsored program.  The Columbia Housing Authority is responsible for monitoring progress of participants in its programs. 
Who is eligible to participate in FSS?Any families who receive assistance under public housing or Housing Choice Voucher (formerly Section 8) programs are eligible to participate. The FSS Contract initiated is between the person indicated as head of household on the lease and CHA.  What are the requirements for FSS Participants?HUD requires all FSS participants to do the following.  All FSS participants must seek and maintain suitable employment and become independent of government financial assistance for 12 consecutive months prior to the contract expiration date.  Participants must also maintain contact with their Case Manager informing them of progress made toward completing goals.   What services are provided through the FSS Program?Case Management Job Training Employment Counseling Homeownership Counseling Financial Literacy Education Education Substance/Alcohol Abuse Treatment or Counseling Household Skills Training Health Education  Certain services are available depending upon availability of funding Transportation Assistance Childcare Assistance 
Why should I enroll in the FSS Program?You should enroll in FSS if you: -are interested in moving out of housing into homeownership or private market rental. -are seeking employment or a job with higher wages. -are interested in increasing your household income. -have goals that you would like to accomplish. -want to start a career or a business. -need assistance with getting on track. -want to become independent of welfare (TANF) assistance.  Steps to Enrolling in FSSExpress Interest/complete application Attend Orientation Meet with FSS Coordinator to discuss program Complete Needs Assessment Develop Action Plan using the Individual Training and Services Plan template Sign the Contract of Participation  How do families apply for the FSS Program? Anyone interested in enrolling in FSS must contact their case manager or the office manager of the FSS Department at (803) 254-3886 Ext.220 and complete an application.  There are certain requirements and procedures in place in order for an applicant to be enrolled in the program. There are a limited number of slots available for enrollment.   Equal OpportunityIt is the policy of CHA that no person will experience discrimination because of race, color,creed, religion, sex, national origin, age disability or familial status in processing of the application, the issuance of Certificates of Family Participants/Housing Vouchers, or any aspects of the FSS Program. CHA will comply with federal, state and local equal opportunity laws and regulations pursuant thereto.