Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS)
The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority (HRHA) Family Self-Sufficiency program is designed to assist you and your family in becoming self-sufficient in the next five years.
Individual Training and Service Plan
The FSS participant meets with FSS staff to set goals and work on meeting those goals to become self-sufficient. Program participants will complete a needs assessment with the FSS staff to determine what types of goals the family will work on. For example, participants can work on areas such as: education and training, job placement, job retention, transportation issues, healthcare, mentoring, home ownership classes and child care assistance. FSS staff will be in contact with clients a minimum of four times per year to review the familys goals and update information. Your Individual Training and Service Plan (ITSP) will be updated by you and your FSS worker at least annually. You will sign off on your goals on an annual basis.
Required Goals in the Program
The following goals are required as part of your participation in the FSS Program.
Paying rent on time each month.
Turning in the Monthly Goal Sheet on or before the 10th of each month.
Keeping unit clean (inside and out)
Reporting changes in income or family composition to Housing Authority staff within 10 business days of the change (this MUST be done at the main HRHA office.)
Working at least 20 hours per week OR attending school FULL TIME.
Employment is an essential part of becoming self-sufficient. FSS participants are required to work a minimum of 20 hours per week upon entering the program and are expected to achieve full time employment status during their participation in the program. Employment will be verified on a regular basis by a member of HRHA staff.
FSS staff works with community agencies to connect our youth with educational resources to encourage them to further their education and become Self Sufficient when graduating. FSS staff sponsors special events for the children such as Easter Baskets, Big Clean up in our community, back to school, and Christmas.
Benefits of the FSS Program
Residents who are actively participating in the FSS program have several benefits available to them:
Assistance with transportation. Referrals can be made by the FSS staff to clients that are experiencing transportation issues. Assistance can be in the form of gas vouchers, help with paying a repair bill, or getting a new car, or accessing bus passes.
Support from the FSS staff with resume writing, job searches, and interview skills.
Credit counseling and repair. Help establishing a monthly budget.
Referrals to resources available in the community.
Ability to earn escrow (explained in detail in the next section).
Option to use earned escrow to pay for emergency situations or to help attain self-sufficiency. (Request for funds is subject to approval by FSS Coordinator and the Executive Director.)
The FSS program allows you to earn money! FSS accounts are established based on rent. FSS accounts are maintained by HRHA and distributed after successful completion of the program. You may use escrow funds while you are participating in the program for activities that will help you achieve and/or maintain self-sufficiency provided that you are actively earning escrow and working to meet your established goals.
The general concept of the escrow account is that FSS families continue to pay rent in accordance with their incomes, even if their incomes increase due to wage increase. As a rule, the amount of the increase in family rent resulting from an increase in earned income (pay increase) is escrowed. Because there are other factors that affect the family rent, the escrowed amount will not necessarily be dollar-for-dollar. If during the contract term the family rent becomes less than the original rent on the effective date of the contract, there is no escrow credit.
Completion of the FSS Program and Graduation
The FSS program lasts for five years. You will complete the program at the end of your five year contract with FSS. If you have met all of the goals that you established for yourself, you are eligible to graduate from the program and receive any escrow that you have earned during your time with the program. This money can be used as a down payment on a home, to purchase a new car, to continue your education or to clean up any remaining credit issues.
It is possible to complete the program and graduate early if you have met all of your goals and are no longer eligible to receive a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). This is done by increasing your income to the point where you are able to pay full market rent for your home.