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DC Councilmember Michael Brown, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, joined DCHA Commissioners Frank Lancaster and Bernadette Tolson, DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman and Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) Director Ron McCoy as they honored the 2011 Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program graduates.

This year’s event was held at THEARC in Southeast Washington, DC. The FSS staff, along with Commissioners Lancaster and Tolson, started the program off with encouraging words and kudos to all the graduates; McCoy described this achievement as the “Epitome of success.”

DCHA understands that its job is not to enable its customers but to empower them. The FSS Program is designed to change the life of HCVP participants. The program is voluntary, but participants are required to sign a contract in order to participate. Clients are required to declare their goals, which can range from improving credit and education, to getting a job and even homeownership. The average time for FSS program participation ranges from five to seven years. While in the program, a portion of their rent is saved into an escrow account which many graduates use toward a home purchase.

Out of the more than 40 graduates for this year, 11 achieved the goal of homeownership. The graduates were given a chance to speak about the joys of being homeowners, and Mary Wren said, “When I first moved in, I didn’t want people to touch my walls or have their shoes on my carpet.”

Another graduate testified, “When I was young I remember cooking Thanksgiving dinner on a hotplate, we didn’t have a stove. But now I am a homeowner!” This testimony put smiles on the faces of the FSS staff. Ronald Fisher, HCVP case worker, later explained how a bond is built between the case worker and the client, and the client’s triumphs become the case worker’s triumphs.

The guest speaker, Octavia Caldwell, is the owner and CEO of ROC Consultants, LLC. ROC Consultants provide entrepreneurial services to FSS participants. She entitled her speech “Don’t Quit.” Caldwell highlighted the life of former President Abraham Lincoln and his struggles on his road to success. The graduates nodded their heads because they, too, could relate to struggles and hardships. Caldwell closed her speech saying, “President Lincoln never gave up no matter how hard it got, and that’s what I encourage you to do.”

FSS Graduates with Octavia Caldwell, Commissioners Lancaster and Tolson and HCVP staff.
FSS Graduates with Octavia Caldwell, Commissioners Lancaster and Tolson and HCVP staff.
Last modified: 12/29/2014 5:34:49 PM