PROVIDENCE, RI – After being left without a stable home, once struggling Rhode Islanders who enrolled in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program have overcome personal obstacles, gained valuable job skills, and earned financial independence.

Today, their successes were hailed at the Providence Housing Authority, where U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced $920,699 in federal funds to help reach more families and allow local Housing Authorities to implement strategies to help assisted housing residents find work, access job training resources, and achieve financial independence.

The Family Self-Sufficiency program enables local Housing Authorities to employ FSS Coordinators, who help clients get firmly on their feet and develop a plan and connect them with services -- including child care, transportation, education, job training, employment, and counseling -- to help them achieve their goals.

Clients in the Family Self-Sufficiency program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), have escrow accounts administered and funded by the Housing Authority.  As they progress through the program and earn gainful, sustainable employment, FSS clients pay larger shares of their monthly rent.  Meanwhile, the Housing Authorities deposit a portion of these increased rent payments into clients’ interest-bearing escrow accounts to boost their savings.  At the end of the program, clients who successfully graduate may use their nest egg towards necessities that allow them to continue making progress toward achieving economic independence.

“The Family Self-Sufficiency Program is a an effective initiative that uplifts individuals and communities.  It delivers results by helping people set goals and provides the mentorship, tools, and support to achieve them.  This is a smart investment in helping participants gain skills and increase their earning power so that participants can achieve financial independence,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.  “I’m proud of the FSS success stories, personal growth and development that we heard about today, and I will continue working to deliver federal funds to support the FSS program and the people who are utilizing it to build a better life for themselves, their families, and our community.”

Last year, Congress enacted the bipartisan Family Self-Sufficiency Act, which combined the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher FSS programs to enhance opportunities for residents and better connect them with the services they need, a streamlining effort authored by Senator Reed.  Reed is the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), which oversees federal spending for HUD programs and also a senior Member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which authorizes HUD programs.

“We are so grateful to Senator Reed for securing funding for the FSS program to help meet the economic and social needs of our residents,” said Melissa Sanzaro, Executive Director of the Providence Housing Authority. “So many families in Providence and across the state will be able to get new jobs and careers, buy their first home, and pursue their dreams because of these grants.”

Those receiving the HUD Public Housing Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program awards announced today include:

  • Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation: $187,714
  • Providence Housing Authority: $199,180
  • Pawtucket Housing Authority: $138,759
  • Narragansett Housing Authority: $69,380
  • Town of Cumberland Housing Authority: $67,917
  • Central Falls Housing Authority: $64,212
  • East Providence Housing Authority: $60,086
  • Town of Coventry Housing Authority: $54,155
  • Warwick Housing Authority: $43,296
  • Housing Authority of the Town of East Greenwich: $36,000

Total: $917,436