The Family Self-Sufficency and Homeownership Program
Section 8 voucher holders have the opportunity to set and reach goals that they set for themselves and their families as well as save a significant amount of money. Section 8 voucher holders may also use their vouchers to realize the American dream of becoming a homeowner. Both of these opportunities are available to section 8 holders who choose to become participants in Section 8’s Family Self- Sufficiency Program. There are two parts to the program. The first part of the program is the Self-Sufficiency program where participants have the opportunity to work towards and meet goals that they set for their families as well as save money that will become theirs when they have completed their goals. The second part of the program is the Homeownership Program. In this part of the program, a section 8 participant can choose to use his or her section 8 voucher to assist with the purchase and payment of a home. Each part of the Self-Sufficiency program is detailed below.
The Family Self-Sufficiency Program
Part I of the program
Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is a voluntary HUD program that encourages and assists families to become self-sufficient. Anyone currently on the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is eligible for this program.
FSS offers a financial incentive to families through an escrow account, which is based on an increase in a families earned income. An example of an increase in earned income would be when a family member has a pay raise, obtains employment or has an increase in his or her working hours that results in an increase in the portion of rent that the family pays each month. For example, if a family member begins working 40 hours per week, and the families rent increase $25.00 dollars per month, that $25.00 dollars goes into an escrow account that the Housing Authority establishes for the family. This account becomes available to the family when the family successfully completes their FSS Contract of Participation.
THE AGENCY’S RESPONSIBILITY
The Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator assists each family to write a plan of individual goals and objectives. The Coordinator also works with public and private sources to assist families to find services and supports needed. An escrow account is established for each family in an interest bearing savings account, and the family receives a record of any deposits and interest yearly. The Coordinator monitors progress on individual goals and objectives and determines when the family has completed the contract. Each month the Coordinator speaks with the head of household in the family and discusses the family’s progress towards their goals.
THE FAMILY’S RESPONSIBILITY
The head of the family must seek and maintain suitable employment, as defined in the family's individual self-sufficiency plan. Employment will be based on the skills, education, and job training of that individual and available job opportunity in the area. Families must work to complete activities within the time periods on their plan, and on a monthly basis, speak to the FSS Coordinator and provide information about the family’s progress towards goals.
All family members must comply with the terms of the lease and Section 8 program. If they are receiving cash assistance, they must become independent of cash assistance for at least 12 consecutive months before the contract expires.
Graduation from the Family Self-Sufficiency program occurs when the family has met all of their goals and objectives, or when 30% of their adjusted monthly income is above the fair market rent for the size unit they qualify for. Any money in their escrow account is paid to the family upon graduation. Many use it for a down payment on a home.
What types of services are provided through the program?
Depending upon each participant’s situation, the FSS Program can connect tenants with job training, resource planning, credit repair resources, basic skills education, high school equivalency (GED) programs, post-secondary education, and assistance with securing meaningful employment. Advisors provide emotional support, case management, and personalized assistance.
Who is eligible?
Anyone who currently holds a Section 8 voucher through FCHA is eligible to apply, regardless of educational level, work experience, or current employment status.
The Contract of Participation
When you complete your application and are accepted into the FSS program, you will be required to sign a contract of participation. This contract is an agreement between the Franklin County Housing Authority and you that lasts for five years. The contract sets forth the provisions of the program and the obligations of your family.
The following is a summary of what the contract entails:
- The contract specifies the head of the family who will be responsible to sign the contract. Further, it states the purpose and effective date of the contract, the date when the contract will end, your annual gross income, your annual earned income and your Total Tenant Payment on the effective date of the contract.
- Terms of the contract are stated. The Self-Sufficiency Action Plan for the head of the family and any other participating members must be completed within a five-year period.
- The Contract of Participation lists the services to be provided to the participants to aid in achieving their goals. While some of the goals initially identified may be changed during participation in the program, ultimately the designated family head must seek and maintain employment during the terms of the contract.
- The contract states what may happen if the terms of the contract of Participation are violated. These consequences can include termination of services under the FSS program.
For additional information or to join the FSS Program
If you are a current participant in the FCHA’s Section 8 Voucher Program, and are motivated to set and achieve your self-sufficiency goals, you may be eligible to join the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program.
- For more information, please contact FSS Coordinator Melissa Case at (717)263-4200 x107.
- Click here for an FSS application.
Realize the American Dream of “Homeownership!”
Part II of Family Self-Sufficiency Program
Own Your Own Home! Eligible Section 8 Voucher holders may now use their vouchers to assist in the purchase of their own home through the Section 8 Homeownership Program. The voucher assistance provides a partial payment toward the mortgage every month. Participants are assisted with budgeting and credit repair as needed, provided with homeownership education, and given support every step of the way as they purchase their home.
Eligibility requirements for the Homeownership Program
- Have a Section 8 Voucher.
- Be consistently employed for one year before homeownership assistance starts. (Elderly people and people with disabilities are exempt from this requirement.)
- Must earn at least $14,400 per year; with exceptions as noted above.
- Must be a first time homebuyer. (Not have owned a home in the past 3 years.)
- Be willing to utilize the voucher to purchase a home within Franklin County.
- Have credit good enough to qualify for a mortgage loan.
- Be a current or former FSS participant (see below)
The Family Self- Sufficiency Program partners with other agencies that will assist you in repairing your credit. While you are in the program, the FSS Coordinator will refer you to an agency that provides credit counseling and assistance.
Participants must also complete the First Time Home Buyer Workshop and Financial Management Workshop prior to payments starting. These workshops are provided by agencies that partner with Franklin County Housing Authorities Section 8, Family Self- Sufficiency Program.
Topics covered during the workshops will include:
- Are you ready to buy a home?
- Budgeting for homeownership.
- Credit and credit repair.
- How to choose a home; working with a realtor.
- The mortgage application process.
- Steps in purchasing your home.
- Finding and working with a lender.
- Predatory lending practices versus good loan products.
- Home Maintenance.
If owning a home is your dream for the future, call Melissa Case at 717-263-4200 x 107 today to find out more.