U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th) last night secured House passage of her legislation aimed at helping low-income families reduce their dependence on public assistance. The bill, H.R. 3018, the Family Self-Sufficiency Act of 2007, expands the availability of family self-sufficiency (FSS) programs offered in connection with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)'s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. FSS programs provide homeownership counseling, job training, child care, education, and other services to help individuals obtain work.
"These are good, flexible programs that help put disadvantaged families on the path to independence," said Biggert, the Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee. "Public housing can be an important safety net for vulnerable families, but it's not a permanent solution. Let's give these individuals all the support we can to help them stand on their own two feet."
To address the lack of consistent federal funding for administering FSS services, the bill establishes a minimum ratio of program coordinators to participants, with funding for one coordinator per housing authority serving an annual average of 25 or more families enrolled in FSS, two coordinators for 75 or more families, and three coordinators for 125 or more families. The bill also requires HUD to establish and implement performance measures, collect data on FSS programs, evaluate their effectiveness, and report to Congress on its findings. Finally, the bill provides some funding flexibility to reward innovative and successful FSS programs.
"The FSS program has helped so many people to get the tools and skills they need to advance from government assistance," said John Day, President of the DuPage Housing Authority. "Rep. Biggert's bill will provide the reliable funding we need to expand these services and put more families on the path to a brighter future."
H.R. 3018 passed the House by voice vote. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
"Between the housing crunch, gas prices, and high food costs, many Americans are facing tough financial challenges," said Biggert. "This is one way that we can help to ensure that a brief period of economic hardship doesn't turn into a lifetime of poverty and dependence."