The following provides an overview of programs that support services in HUD-assisted housing.
Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Overview
FSS is a HUD program designed to help public housing residents, Housing Choice Voucher participants, and residents of multifamily assisted housing increase their earnings and build assets and financial capability. FSS does this through two key features which build on the platform of stable housing created by rental assistance:
- A financial incentive for participants to increase their earnings in the form of an escrow savings account that increases as residents’ earnings increase. The escrow account helps participants build savings that they can use to improve their quality of life and advance their personal goals. Escrow funds can also help participants cover the cost of services that may be needed to make progress toward goals while enrolled in the program, such as employment training or car repair.
- Case management or coaching to help residents access services they may need to overcome barriers to employment, strengthen their financial capability, and address other challenges holding them back from achieving their goals.
Under HUD program regulations, resident participation in FSS is completely voluntary. Residents who choose to enroll in FSS work with an FSS program coordinator who helps them identify a series of intermediate and long-term goals and the steps they plan to take to achieve those goals. These steps include services residents may benefit from accessing, such as job training or basic skills education. The individual goals for each FSS participant and the steps to achieve those goals are recorded in an Individual Training and Services Plan (ITSP). The ITSP is part of an FSS Contract of Participation signed by the agency administering the FSS program and the head of each participating household. The Contract of Participation records the commitments of the family and the FSS program to work together to achieve the identified goals.
All FSS participants are required to include the following two goals in their ITSP:
- All household members must be independent of welfare cash assistance from federal or state welfare programs for at least the last 12 months of their participation in the program. The requirement applies solely to ongoing cash assistance. Food stamps, Medicaid, or short-term non-recurring cash payments (such as a one-time payment of emergency assistance to help a family avoid eviction or meet a medical expense) are not included.
- The Head of Household must seek and maintain suitable employment.
Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator (ROSS-SC) Overview
Since 2008, HUD has provided funding for the ROSS-SC program, which allows eligible grantees to hire service coordinators to connect public housing residents to needed services. The program’s goals are to help improve economic and housing self-sufficiency and, in the case of elderly residents or people with disabilities, to improve conditions for independent living.
ROSS-SC is intended to assist three groups of public housing residents:
- Persons with disabilities
- Very low-income families
Four types of grantees are eligible for ROSS-SC:
- Public Housing Agencies (PHAs)
- Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs)
- Resident associations affiliated with a PHA
- Nonprofit organizations that must be supported by a PHA, tribe, or resident association
Grants provide three years of funding, and all grantees must contribute a 25-percent match in cash or in-kind donations. Grantees may apply for funds for up to three service coordinators, depending on the number of housing units in the grantee’s portfolio. Twenty-five percent of ROSS-SC funds are set aside for qualified resident association applicants. Applicants seeking grant renewals receive priority over those seeking new grants.
Service Coordinators in Multifamily Housing (SCMF) Program Overview
The SCMF program provides funding for the employment of service coordinators in insured and assisted multifamily housing that is designed for the elderly and persons with disabilities. A service coordinator in HUD-assisted multifamily housing is a staff person hired or contracted by an assisted housing owner or its management company to foster an environment in which elderly persons and persons with disabilities can live independently and remain in their communities. The service coordinator helps residents to access services available in the community and designs programs and services to meet the needs and desires of the property’s residents.
There are two main funding sources for the SCMF program:
- Operating funding (through the property’s operating budget or other eligible project resources)
- Grants awarded through notices of funding availability issued by HUD and renewed on an annual cycle, subject to the availability of funds
Integrated Wellness in Supportive Housing (IWISH) Overview
The IWISH demonstration funds a full-time Resident Wellness Director and a part-time Wellness Nurse to work in HUD-assisted housing developments that either predominantly or exclusively serve households headed by people aged 62 or over. The Resident Wellness Director and Wellness Nurse proactively engage with residents and implement a formal strategy for coordinating services to help meet residents’ needs. The team:
- Performs person-centered interviews and health and wellness assessments
- Develops Individual and Community Healthy Aging Plans
- Assists residents with implementing their plans and accessing needed services and resources
- Formally and informally engages with community partners
- Has access to supplemental supportive services funds to support health and wellness needs of residents
Forty properties across seven states participate in the demonstration, which began in 2017.
Jobs Plus Overview
The goal of the Jobs Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families (Jobs Plus) is to help public housing residents find and keep jobs. HUD and the Rockefeller Foundation designed Jobs Plus in the late 1990s to address the unique obstacles public housing residents face. Jobs Plus combines three components:
- Employment services at onsite job centers
- New rent rules that offer financial incentives for residents to work
- Neighbor-to-neighbor conversations that support working
Six public housing developments in six cities tested Jobs Plus from 1998 to 2003, though only three of the six were able to achieve full implementation. The evaluation of this first phase of the program found that where the components were fully implemented, the program produced sustained positive effects on residents’ earnings. In 2010, organizations in New York and Texas attempted to replicate the Jobs Plus model independent of HUD in several public housing developments. The sites involved in the second iteration did not have the regulatory flexibility to implement the new rent rules tested in the first phase so experimented with an earned income disregard. In 2015, HUD launched a third iteration of the program, called the Jobs Plus Pilot, which largely preserves the structure of the original program but has been scaled up to 24 grantees.