Only a small number of Welfare to Work (WtW) voucher holders are
participating in Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs. Over the
past two years, many WtW programs have concentrated primarily on
leasing and are now trying to introduce FSS services to WtW participants.
However, while many of the WtW sites run FSS, they don't have the
resources or the commitment of senior public housing authority management
to expand their programs to accommodate WtW families. The primary
challenge is therefore for WtW programs to recognize the importance
of linking FSS and WtW by making FSS services accessible to voucher
holders when possible and to sell the FSS program to WtW families
as a means of reaching and maintaining the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency.
Solution: Design FSS Services that Help WtW Voucher Holders Move to Self-Sufficiency
The Las Vegas Housing Authority's (LVHA) FSS program is designed
to help Section 8 families, including WtW voucher holders, become
self-supporting so they will no longer need public assistance. In
the FSS program, the head of the household enters into a five-year
contract with LVHA and then develops an action plan with staff assistance.
The action plan identifies the employment goal of the participant
and outlines the activities and services necessary to achieve this
goal. A FSS Coordinator is then assigned to the family to help it
obtain the services listed in the plan and support the family over
LVHA offers the following services in order to help participants
reach their goals:
This service helps FSS program participants save money. When rent
goes up due to an increase in earnings, the amount of the increase
is also placed in a savings account. The FSS participant receives
all the money plus interest when they have completed the program.
(LVHA currently has over $190,000 in escrow.)
Youth Sports Build Program
This service assists families whose children would like to participate
in a community sport activity. LVHA will pay registration fees and
uniform costs for children who reside in a WtW or Section 8 unit.
The children must range between the ages of 5-14 and parents must
provide a copy of the child's report card or most current progress
Economic Opportunity Board (EOB) Homeownership Program
This service allows Section 8 participants that are currently receiving
assistance from LVHA to use their Section 8 subsidy towards the
purchase of a home. Participants must have at least one year of
good standing in the Section 8 or WtW program, be employed full-time
for one year, graduate from the FSS program, and provide cash down
payment of 3 percent to the lender, and 1 percent of the purchase
price of their personal resources.
Nevada Check Up
This service provides low-cost, comprehensive health care coverage
to uninsured children 0-18 years of age in the State of Nevada.
Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEA)
LIHEA assists eligible households with home heating and cooling
costs in Nevada.
Transportation - Buddy System
This service provides voucher recipients with a mode of transportation
to view potential housing units.
for an Independent Tomorrow (FIT) Services
FIT is a public, non-profit corporation that helps people move from
welfare and public assistance to well-paying jobs by offering the
following services in partnership with LVHA:
- Provides education and training to prepare participants for
increased opportunities in the marketplace and a job that pays
more than minimum wage.
- Provides financial assistance (in the form of vouchers) while
recipients receive job training to provide for living essentials
such as good childcare, diapers, and transportation.
- Helps participants make the transition to a better paying job
through vocational counseling and mentoring.
LVHA also offers skill-building workshops on subjects such as resume
preparation, stress management, household budgeting, credit repair,
and first-time homeownership.
Additional services through LVHA include job training, childcare,
educational programs, and counseling.
In order for LVHA's FSS program to run efficiently and effectively,
many strides have been made to market the benefits of the FSS program
to WtW voucher holders. At each WtW voucher briefing, LVHA staff
members distribute a briefing packet that includes a FSS brochure
and a FSS program sign-up sheet. The brochure gives basic information
about the program, mentioning the services listed above. The sign-up
sheet gives new WtW voucher holders an opportunity to find out more
about the FSS program after they lease a unit.
LVHA also has a newsletter called "The FSS Gazette" which
markets the FSS program further and provides helpful information
to participants on a monthly basis. The newsletter contains information
on the success of the FSS program, upcoming workshop dates, positive
feature stories, and specific service information.
The Family Self-Sufficiency Program Guide/Resource Book, sponsored
by Clark County Housing Authority, Housing Authority of the City
of North Las Vegas, and LVHA, is another helpful resource for program
participants. It contains contact information for organizations
offering supportive services in the community such as childcare,
job training, and educational services.
LVHA's FSS program would not be able to function without the help
from four full-time staff members. LVHA has 3 FSS Coordinators and
one secretary/clerk. The Coordinators have around 75-100 cases at
any one time and also administer the Section 8 Homeownership program.
Coordinator duties include monitoring goals and developing additional
Probably the most important aspect of LVHA's FSS program is the
interaction with the community. The Program Coordinating Committee
(PCC) is a committee of community agencies and the Housing Authority.
The agencies work together and provide services to FSS participants
by securing commitments of public and private resources for the
operation of the FSS program. FSS staff is also in constant communication
with local businesses, banks, public figures, and the media -- networking
is a key part of running LVHA's program and constant communication
is used to announce positive strides to stakeholders.
LVHA's FSS program has 221 slots, 39 percent of which are used
by WtW voucher holders. There are currently 75 people on the FSS
waiting list and therefore LVHA will be expanding the FSS program
to 300 slots in the next few months. LVHA has had 7 FSS graduates
in the last 2 years.
An article on LVHA's leasing success was in the March 18, 2002
issue of HDR Current Developments entitled, "Las Vegas Housing
Authority Partners with Welfare Agency to Achieve Quick Voucher
Lease-Up." Please contact 1-800-723-8077 for a copy of the
Contact: Deloris Sawyer, PO Box 1897,
Las Vegas, NV 89125, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Interview with LVHA staff, LVHA newsletters, and brochures