following questions and answers on the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS)
Program were prepared by the Office of Public and Assisted Housing
Delivery of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Please
see the FSS program
summary page for more information.
Was the FSS Program eliminated by the Public
Housing Reform Act of 1998 (also known as the Quality Housing and
Work Responsibility Act or QHWRA)?
How did QHWRA change the mandatory minimum program
size requirements for the FSS Program?
QHWRA made the following changes to the FSS program mandatory minimum
program size requirement:
- Reservation of funds on or after October 21, 1998 for additional
Section 8 certificates or vouchers and for acquisition or construction
of additional public housing units will not increase the PHA's
mandatory minimum program size for its Section 8 (now known as
housing choice voucher FSS) or public housing FSS programs.
- The mandatory minimum FSS program size, prior to any reductions
approved by HUD, will be reduced by one slot for each FSS family
that fulfills its FSS contract of participation on or after October
Does QHWRA state that PHAs need no longer recruit
families for FSS?
No. PHAs with mandatory FSS programs must complete their FSS program
obligations. A PHA's FSS obligation continues until the number of
families successfully completing the FSS program on or after October
21, 1998, is equal to the number of the mandatory FSS slots of the
PHA prior to any reduction approved by HUD. (Since the obligation
for public housing and housing choice voucher FSS are separate,
graduation of housing choice voucher FSS program participants reduces
the mandatory housing choice voucher FSS program size and graduation
of public housing FSS graduates reduces the mandatory public housing
FSS program size.) PHAs with voluntary FSS programs may maintain
FSS programs at the level reflected in their HUD- approved FSS Action
Is the FSS program being phased out?
No. Although the mandatory aspect of the program will gradually
be eliminated as families successfully complete the program, the
ability of PHAs to operate voluntary FSS programs is not being phased
out or eliminated.
The Department supports FSS. HUD will continue to pay for escrow
costs and intends to continue to make funding for housing choice
voucher FSS program coordinators available through annual NOFAs.
Operating subsidy will also continue to be available to fund an
FSS coordinator position for the public housing FSS program.
The Department believes that the FSS program is an invaluable tool
for PHAs and families in connection with welfare reform, and that
it can support a variety of HUD initiatives including welfare-to-work
vouchers, the Family Unification program, and the new Resident Opportunities
and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) program. The FSS program helps families
move from welfare and low-wage jobs, to employment that pays a living
wage allowing families to become truly self-sufficient.
May PHAs operate voluntary FSS programs?
Yes. Whether or not a PHA has a mandate to operate an FSS program,
it may operate a voluntary FSS program. PHAs with no mandate can
obtain HUD approval to operate a completely voluntary program while
PHAs with mandatory FSS programs can receive approval to operate
FSS programs larger than their mandates. Approval to operate a voluntary
FSS program is obtained when HUD approves the PHA's FSS Action Plan
that reflects the PHA's voluntary FSS program.
Can PHAs require families to participate in FSS?
No. Participation of families in the FSS program is voluntary and cannot be a condition
of receiving assistance under the housing choice voucher program.
In FY 2000 and beyond, how can PHAs fund their
FSS escrow accounts?
PHAs will fund their escrow accounts as they have in the past:
For public housing FSS programs, PHAs should continue
to follow the procedure outlined in question C-1 of HUD's May 1993
questions and answers on FSS which was included in HUD notices PIH
93-24 and PIH 94-59 (HA). Public housing families will pay their
rent to the PHA in accordance with normal procedures and the PHA
will credit the applicable portion of a family's rent charge to
the family's FSS escrow account. For purposes of reporting the total
monthly rent roll in the calculation of operating subsidy under
PFS, a PHA is allowed to exclude the amount credited to the escrow
For housing choice voucher FSS programs, the escrow
credit is part of the PHA's housing assistance payments cost that
is requisitioned from HUD and reflected in the PHA's housing assistance
costs in its year-end statement. When a family's earned income increases
making the family eligible for an escrow credit, the FSS family
will pay a higher rent to the owner based on its increased income
and the PHA will adjust the housing assistance payment to the owner
to reflect the family's increased income. Each month the PHA will
make the appropriate housing assistance payment to the owner and
deposit the escrow credit in the family's FSS escrow account. In
its requisition, the housing assistance payment amount requested
by the PHA will be the sum of the actual housing assistance payment
to the owner on behalf of the family plus the full amount that the
PHA has credited to the family's FSS escrow account. Since the escrow
costs are included in the amount of housing assistance payments
in the PHA's year-end statement, the escrow costs are taken into
account in calculating the PHA's per unit cost for housing choice
voucher program renewals.
Does HUD provide funding for housing choice
voucher FSS program coordinators?
Yes. Through an annual notice of funding availability or NOFA,
HUD makes funding available to pay the salaries of housing choice
voucher FSS program coordinators. In recent years, the FSS NOFA
has been published as part of the Department's SuperNOFA.
Are funds available for an FSS program coordinator
for public housing FSS programs?
Operating subsidy is available for reasonable and eligible administrative
costs of public housing FSS, including the costs of employing a
full-time FSS program coordinator.
Did QHWRA eliminate HUD's ability to approve
full or partial exceptions to a PHA's mandatory minimum program
HUD field offices have continued authority to approve full or partial
exceptions permitting a PHA to operate an FSS program smaller than
its mandatory minimum size. To obtain an exception, the PHA must
demonstrate that at the present time it cannot administer an FSS
program of the mandatory minimum program size because of local circumstances
such as lack of supportive services, lack of funding for reasonable
administrative costs, lack of cooperation by units of state and
local government or lack of family interest.
As in the past, after reviewing and evaluating the PHA's request
for an exception, the HUD field office must offer technical assistance
to the PHA to help resolve the problems that are interfering with
the PHA's implementation of its FSS program. The HUD field office
staff should share with the PHA information about techniques used
by other PHAs, refer the PHA to other PHAs that have successfully
implemented FSS programs and assure that the PHA has tried different
approaches. For example a PHA having difficulty establishing an
FSS program of the required minimum size may combine its FSS program
with that of another PHA so that both can share available supportive
services and administrative resources. All PHAs must try to implement
an FSS program of the initial minimum program size prior to approval
of a complete or partial exception.
When approving an exception, the HUD field office letter to the
PHA authorizing an exception must state the number of families under
the PHA's original FSS obligation, the new FSS obligation and the
expiration date of the exception.
Does HUD approval of a full or partial exception
permanently reduce a PHA's minimum FSS program size?
No. Exceptions expire three years from the date of HUD approval.
If a PHA seeks to continue an exception after its expiration, the
PHA must submit a new request and new certification to HUD for approval.
Do the FSS regulations at 24 CFR Part 984 apply
to voluntary public housing and housing choice voucher FSS programs?
Yes. Both voluntary and mandatory public housing and housing choice
voucher FSS programs must comply with the FSS regulations found
in 24 CFR Part 984.
Did the definition of "welfare assistance"
change for purposes of determining if an FSS family is eligible
to claim its escrow account?
Yes, the new definition was included in the Admissions and Occupancy
final rule that was published in the Federal Register on March 29,
2000 and became effective on April 28, 2000. Under the new definition,
which applies only to the FSS program, welfare assistance means
income assistance from Federal or State welfare programs and includes
only cash maintenance to meet a family's ongoing basic needs. Food
Stamps, SSI, SSDI, Social Security and amounts for health care are
no longer counted as welfare assistance for the FSS program.
Will the Section 8 Management Assessment Program
(SEMAP) still include indicators for FSS programs?
Yes. Two indicators will apply to PHAs with mandatory housing choice
voucher FSS programs. One indicator will measure FSS enrollment
as a percentage of the PHA's mandatory housing choice voucher FSS
program size or HUD-approved exception program size; the other will
measure the percentage of housing choice voucher FSS families with
FSS addendum progress reports that have escrow account balances.
Since HUD will obtain this information from the HUD-50058 FSS/WtW
Addendum, it is essential that PHAs assure that each 50058 FSS/WtW
Addendum is completed accurately and submitted as required.