Family Self-Sufficiency Program

Download the FSS Brochure

An opportunity for families living in CMHA-assisted housing to become self-sufficient by increasing their earned income.

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

The FSS Program helps families with CMHA Housing Choice Vouchers or living in CMHA Public Housing take the steps to find and maintain stable employment and establish savings accounts that will lead to self-sufficiency. It is an opportunity to invest in your future—whether you want to finish school, find a better job, or secure the childcare and transportation you need to stay employed.

Participation in the FSS Program is voluntary. If you choose to participate, you will sign a five-year contract and develop a personal plan for becoming self-sufficient. After signing the contract, it is up to you to work toward your goals, with the support of the FSS Coordinator.

Are you eligible for FSS?

If you currently have a Housing Choice Voucher from CMHA or live in CMHA Public Housing, are able to work, and want to become self-sufficient, you may be eligible. The first step is to place your name on our FSS waiting list. As slots in the program open up, you will be invited to attend an FSS orientation meeting, where you will learn more about program enrollment and participation requirements. Any family with an outstanding debt to CMHA must have an executed repayment agreement and be current in payments to place their name on the FSS waiting list.

How can you save the money needed to achieve your goals?

CMHA establishes an interest-bearing escrow (savings) account for each FSS participant. As you work toward your goals, and your earned income increases, CMHA makes contributions to this account. Your family’s annual income, earned income, and rent when you begin the program will be used to determine the amount credited to your FSS escrow account because of increases in earned income.

If you complete your FSS goals and contract, you receive a check equal to the amount in your FSS account. The savings can sometimes be used while you are in the FSS program to pay for costs related to achieving your goals. FSS participants use their savings for many things, including buying cars, paying for school tuition, and credit repair.

The Keys to FSS Success

Achieving self-sufficiency is hard work, but CMHA will be your partner in making it happen!

What you will do:

  1. Complete an FSS application to put your name on the FSS waiting list (This is not an application for CMHA housing.)
  2. Attend an orientation meeting when you receive an invitation letter from CMHA
  3. Sign a contract with CMHA with your self-sufficiency goals
  4. Work to achieve your contract goals
  5. Meet periodically with an FSS Coordinator to discuss progress and service needs
  6. Provide required documentation of goal-related activities

What CMHA will do:

  1. Help you develop a self-sufficiency plan
  2. Link you with programs and services to meet your goals
  3. Advise you on how to overcome barriers that may arise to achieving your goals
  4. Administer your escrow savings account

FSS Graduation

You graduate from FSS, and receive the funds in your escrow account, when you meet or certify all of the following:

  • Completed your contract goals within 5 years (CMHA may extend the term of the contract for up to an additional two years for “good cause”.)
  • You have achieved and maintained suitable employment
  • No family member is on cash assistance for one year
  • You are in good standing with CMHA

A family that has not met its family responsibilities within the times specified in their FSS contract, or has been terminated from the FSS, HCV or Public Housing program, will not receive the funds in the escrow account.

For more information about the FSS program, or to place your name on the waiting list, contact:

Amanda Zamora
Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator
Housing Choice Voucher participants
614-421-6250  azamora@cmhanet.com

Margie Rihn
Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator
Public Housing and HCV participants
614-421-6068  mrihn@cmhanet.com

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