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RISMEDIA, June 2, 2011—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently awarded nearly $15 million to more than 200 public housing authorities across the U.S. to help public housing residents find jobs that lead them toward economic independence.

HUD’s Public and Indian Housing Family Self-Sufficiency Program, provides this funding to public housing authorities (PHAs), which allows them to hire program coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with local education and training opportunities; job placement organizations; and local employers. The purpose of the program is to encourage innovative strategies that link public housing assistance with other resources to enable participating families to increase earned income; reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance; and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency.

“Family self-sufficiency programs have a proven track record of helping families succeed,” says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who announced the grants. “When families are given the tools they need to join a skilled workforce they move beyond HUD’s rental assistance programs to self-sufficiency. This is how Americans will win the future—individually and collectively.”

Participating public housing residents sign a contract to participate. They outline their responsibilities towards completion of training and employment objectives over a five-year period. For those families receiving welfare assistance, the PHA establishes an interim goal that the participating family becomes independent from welfare assistance prior to the expiration of the contract. During their participation, residents may create an escrow account funded with their increasing income, which they may use in a variety of ways, including continuing their education, making a major purchase or improving their credit score.

The Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a long-standing resource for increasing economic security and self-sufficiency among public housing and HCV participants. A HUD Prospective Study, issued earlier this year, evaluated the effectiveness of the FSS Program. Conducted from 2005 to 2009, HUD found substantial financial benefits for participants who complete the program. This study is the second of a three-part evaluation of the FSS program. The first study found individuals who participated in the FSS program fared better financially than those who did not enroll in the program. HUD will launch the third and final study this series this year.

PD&R will also undertake two additional studies this year including an examination of whether certain FSS participants who were still enrolled when the Prospective Study ended went on to graduate from the FSS program and whether they met their goals for financial self-sufficiency. Other studies will test the effectiveness of the FSS program nationwide, the first national study of the FSS program as part of HUD’s Transformation Initiative, which was created in 2010 to encourage more transparency and accountability within the agency.

For more information visit www.hud.gov.

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