This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program at the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Family Self-Sufficiency program is a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program designed to support public housing residents and Housing Choice Voucher holders with employment and savings goals.
In honor of this important milestone, HOC has produced an engaging 15-minute video describing their program, participants, and the successes they've had over the past two decades. They've seen 800 of their participants work their way through the program and graduate (out of over a thousand enrollees). The video features interviews with program coordinators, case managers, volunteers, and participants themselves, all talking about the positive impact this program has in the lives of families receiving rental assistance.
One FSS program participant featured in the video describes her experience in the program (which supported her on the path to homeownership): "Being able to purchase my own home… you know, that’s a great lineage to leave to my children. Having their own home gives them roots and foundation to say, 'Hey, this is where I grew up – with a sense of stability, knowing that if things don’t work out there, I always have a place to come back to to call home.' So those are the things that I’ve learned in FSS that I can pass along to my children.”
The FSS program is one the Asset Building Program has supported for years - it's a unique model that couples participation in rental assistance programs with support for employment, holistic case management services, and an opportunity to build up a pool of assets. Over the past year, I've been working to gather information from FSS program coordinators in communities across the U.S. and looking at the research on how this program works. We're in the process of finalizing a comprehensive report on these findings that we're looking forward to releasing soon. In the meanwhile, check out the video to learn more about HOC's work to build an incredibly successful FSS program.