The District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) recently received $273,698 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help residents receiving housing assistance gain access to education, job training, and employment.

The grant is part of HUD’s $75 million in funding for housing authorities across the country to support the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program for DCHA clients. The grant will be used to hire or retain service coordinators who work with families within the program. The District’s funding will cover the cost of four of these positions.

"HUD connects folks to opportunity," said HUD Secretary Julian Castro in a statement. "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."

DCHA’s FSS Program enrolled 250 families in fiscal year 2014, most of which are single parent households with one to three children. This past year, 15 participants graduated from the program; 10 of which are now pursuing homeownership. On average, FSS graduates in the District increased their income by $11,672.

“Our FSS service coordinators have a proven track record of success. Family enrollment increased 15 percent over last year’s program,” said DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman. “More than half of the current FSS participants are now gainfully employed and/or increased their income through the program. On top of that, about 40 percent of DCHA FSS graduates have purchased their own home – and those numbers keep growing!”

In order to achieve this level of success, FSS coordinators work with families to identify education, career, financial, and homeownership goals. Heads of household sign a five-year contract to work towards self-sufficiency goals such as pursuing education or employment opportunities and creating financial stability. With participants’ goals in mind, coordinators, with the help of community partners, facilitate training and services to help the families succeed. As the head of household’s income rises, a portion of those funds are set aside in an interest-earning escrow account. When the participant graduates, that escrow account can be used for a variety of purposes including debt payments, starting a business, or a down payment on a home.

The program is currently accepting applications for new participants.

Last modified: 10/16/2014 2:00:55 PM