Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS)

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is a work-incentive program that helps Section 8 participants become more economically independent. Clients who choose to participate meet with an FSS Coordinator to create a 5-year plan to earn more money through work.

As the FSS client begins earning more income from work, a portion of their rent increase is matched in an escrow savings account. The savings account is then given to the client, tax-free when he or she graduates from the program.

What is Family Self-Sufficiency?

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is a program initiated and funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It provides HUD housing assistance combined with access to community resources and opportunity to establish an escrow savings account to participants interested in becoming self-sufficient. The basic premise for this program is that housing can be an insurmountable obstacle for a family. Providing housing assistance permits a family to invest their energy in other efforts- job training, education, and employment- that are necessary to achieve self-sufficiency. This program is designed for Section 8 Participants.

How Does FSS Work?

Low-income families apply to participate in the program. In exchange for housing assistance, a family develops and agrees to a Contract of Participation. This agreement identifies needs of the family and goals to be achieved in order for the family to become self-sufficient and free of public assistance. Case-management services are provided to assist families in accessing and utilizing community resources in order to meet their needs and obtain financial stability.

What are the Benefits of FSS?


Each family who actively participates and completes the FSS Goal and Action Plan will receive an escrow account. The escrow account offers a family the opportunity to save for the future. The account begins when a family earns income, which increases the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) towards the rent. As the TTP increases, the amount of the increase is put into an interest-bearing escrow account. This account is then available to the family when the contract in successfully completed.


A family can become self-sufficient by actively participating in this program and taking advantage of the opportunity being offered. Adult members will receive professional guidance in achieving their goals. Self-sufficiency can be achieved through advanced education and increased employability through intern job experiences and job seeking skills. Self-sufficiency eliminates the need to be dependent on public assistance and increases one’s self esteem and sense of accomplishment.


Career and interest assessments along with assistance in applying for admission and financial aid are available through community agency referrals. Participants will be assisted in contacting community agencies, which can assist them in deciding what career, and educational opportunities are appropriate for them. Educational/career counseling is available. Opportunities available include obtaining a GED or completing a two-year or four-year degree.


Family members are encouraged to seek suitable employment and it is a requirement of the contract that the head of the household obtain suitable employment sometime during the contract period. Assistance is available to identify skills and career interests. Information regarding resume writing and interviewing skills is available. Referrals will be made to appropriate community agencies regarding programs assisting with obtaining employment.


Training in homemaking, parenting skills and household management will be available to assist families in recognizing a healthy and positive lifestyle appropriate for the whole family. Efficient and effective ways to budget finances, coordinate childcare, school and employment will be discussed with each family to maximize the potential of self-sufficiency and to minimize stress.

For the latest information on the Family Self-Sufficiency program, click here .