On Monday, September 29th, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that $75 million would be awarded through the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program to selected public housing agencies across the nation.
Of these funds, the state of Florida as a whole received over $3.3 million. The Pinellas County Housing Authority was awarded $132,425, the fifth largest grant out of thirty-five awarded in the state.
This money will continue to fund and develop programs that link residents with local community organizations that provide training and skill workshops for employment. Through the FSS program, residents aim to become gainfully employed and more financially stable and independent. Over the course of a five-year contract, participants are expected to remain employed while an escrow account accumulates funds based on progress and earned income. After successfully completing the five-year contract, residents can then use that money to repay debt, pay for education, or buy a home.
Recent studies conducted by HUD have proven the effectiveness of FSS programs and the increased financial stability of residents who complete the five-year contract.
Congress consolidated funding for the public housing FSS with the Housing Choice Voucher FSS (HCV FSS) program in 2014, allowing funds to be distributed more effectively across both. HUD Secretary Julián Castro said, “These grants will link people to the computer access, financial literacy, job training, childcare and other tools they need to compete and succeed in the workplace. Every American deserves access to the skills and resources necessary to become self-sufficient” (HUD.gov).