Family Self-Sufficiency Program

What is the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program?

Tacoma Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is an employment and savings incentive program. FSS provides individualized case management. Participants improve their educational level, participate in pre-employment training, gain job readiness skills and become employed.

The goals for FSS are:

  • Increase participants’ ability to earn a livable wage
  • Increase self-reliance
  • Reduce dependence on financial subsidies.

The FSS program helps very low income people reach these goals by helping them:

  • Identify their skills, assets and aspirations
  • Overcome barriers to progress, such as trauma, domestic violence, low educational attainment, lack of English language skills or lack of job skills

How are families selected?

Families living in THA housing communities or those on THA’s Housing Choice Voucher and Housing Opportunities (HOP) program are eligible to join the FSS program. Those who want to participate in FSS attend an orientation. Following the orientation, prospective participants meet individually with a FSS staff to complete an application. THA will screen applicants based on interest and motivation to participate in the program.

What requirements must a family meet to participate in FSS?

The PHA and the head of each participating family sign an FSS Contract of Participation that specifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The 5-year FSS contract specifies goals and services for each family in an Individual Training and Services Plan. Family members must fulfill all requirements and goals of the Individual Training and Services Plan in order to successfully complete the program.
The FSS Contract of Participation requires that the family comply with the lease, that all family members become independent of welfare, and that the head of the family seek and maintain suitable employment.

What is the FSS escrow account?

THA establishes a savings account, or escrow account, for FSS participants.  Participants receive the money in their escrow account when they complete all the goals in the Individual Training and Services Plan and they successfully fulfill all the requirements of FSS Contract of Participation.

If the family completes the Contract of Participation and no member of the family is receiving welfare, the amount of the FSS escrow account is paid to the head of the family. If THA terminates the FSS contract, or if the family fails to complete the Contract of Participation before its end date, the family does not receive the FSS escrow account.

How is FSS escrow calculated?

In January 2013, THA began using a pay point system to calculate escrow account deposits.  Participants increase their escrow by achieving the goals in their Individual Training and Service plan.  For example, participants can earn a $2000 pay point if they maintain 32 hours per week employment for a minimum of six consecutive months. 

How do I find out more information?

Contact Stephanie Hopkins, FSS Caseworker at (253) 207-4446 to set up an appointment.

If you want to participate: You will be scheduled for an orientation and assessment. You will then decide in consultation with the FSS team whether this program is the right plan for you.

The Family Self-Sufficiency Program is based on a 5-year commitment. At completion of the program, you must:

  1. Be employed and/or running a successful business full-time
  2. Be in compliance with your lease and housing program
  3. Be welfare-free for 12 consecutive months prior to completing your contract

THA’s FSS program increases economic stability for low-income residents. Our employment services help participants get jobs and increase earned income. Our financial literacy training helps participants increase their capacity to think ahead and plan for how their lives will change as their income increases. Through FSS, participants cut the ties to dependence on subsidies and learn how to take responsibility for their own economic future.