H.R. 4258 would combine the two separate FSS programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) into one program. In addition, the bill seeks to broaden the supportive services that the FSS can provide to a participant and it would allow tenants who currently reside in privately-owned properties with HUD project-based assistance to participate in the FSS program. The FSS program helps families in public housing and the voucher program make progress toward economic self-sufficiency by combining stable affordable housing with work-promoting service coordination and a rent incentive in the form of an escrow account that grows as the families’ earnings increase. FSS participants receive the escrowed funds if they successfully graduate from FSS.
Enacted in 1990, the FSS program funds FSS Coordinators to help participants achieve employment goals and accumulate assets. The FSS Coordinators in each local program build partnerships with employers and service providers in the community to help participants obtain jobs and supportive services. These services may include child care, transportation, basic adult education, job training, employment counseling, substance/alcohol abuse treatment, financial literacy, asset-building skills, and homeownership counseling among others.
The FSS program helps families set goals to achieve economic security and economic independence. Generally, families have five (5) years in which to achieve their goals. Through FSS, participants become and stay employed, become independent of government assistance, and increase their income level. Graduating participants gain access to the escrow account established in their name, and, as a result, also decrease or eliminate the need for rental assistance. This program allows more resources for housing assistance to be made available to serve additional families.
H.R. 4258 would enhance HUD's FSS Program and furthers the strategic goal to use housing as a platform to improve quality of life of and helping HUD-assisted renters increase their economic security and self-sufficiency. Enacting the reforms in H.R. 4258 will promote the development of local strategies to coordinate the use of housing assistance with public and private resources to enable participating families to increase earned income and financial literacy, reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance, and make progress toward economic independence.