U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced that ten Rhode Island housing agencies will receive nearly $900,000 in federal funding to help public and assisted housing residents find work and receive assistance. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants may be used to retain or hire 15 local service coordinators to work directly with HUD-assisted families to connect them to supportive services and help individuals increase their independence.
Public housing agencies (PHAs) in Rhode Island will receive $897,685 through the Housing Choice Voucher-Family Self-Sufficiency Program (HCV-FSS) and Public Housing-Family Self-Sufficiency Program (PH-FSS) to develop local strategies to help participating families obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency. Service coordinators work with local agencies to develop a comprehensive program that gives participating FSS family members the skills, experience, and support to enable them to obtain economic independence and housing self-sufficiency.
Participants in both programs sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and no longer receive welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. As the family's income rises, a portion of that increased income is deposited in an interest-bearing escrow account. If the family successfully completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for purposes like paying educational expenses, starting a business, or paying debts.
"This federal funding will help provide families in public housing with critical support services to help them achieve economic and housing self-sufficiency. This program is geared towards helping people help themselves. The service coordinators work directly with residents to assist them with job training and help them achieve economic independence," said Reed, who recently introduced the Family Self Sufficiency Act. Reed's bill would broaden the scope of the supportive services that may be offered under the FSS program to include attainment of a GED, education in pursuit of a post-secondary degree or certification, and training in financial literacy. Additionally, Reed's bill expands the reach of the FSS program to more families who are currently excluded due to a technicality related to the kind of housing assistance a family receives.
The grant recipients of the Housing Choice Voucher-Family Self-Sufficiency Program (HCV-FSS) include:
Providence Housing Authority: $127,744
Pawtucket Housing Authority: $34,500
Central Falls Housing Authority: $63,456
East Providence Housing Authority: $24,470
Town of Cumberland Housing Authority: $67,326
Warwick Housing Authority: $69,000
Town of Coventry Housing Authority: $51,571
Housing Authority of the Town of East Greenwich: $69,000
Narragansett Housing Authority: $69,000
Rhode Island Housing: $183,618
Additionally, PHAs in Providence and Pawtucket will also receive $69,000 each in Public Housing-Family Self-Sufficiency Program (PH-FSS) grants.