Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Family Self-Sufficiency Grant Announcement

Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia Housing Authority, February 14, 2019
 

Thank you all for being here today. And thank you Kelvin Jeramiah for hosting us today in this gorgeous new building and for supporting the Family Self-Sufficiency, also known as FSS, Program.

At the Department of Housing and Urban Development our mission is to provide access to fair, safe, and affordable for all Americans, but we also believe that our mission is to help those who depend on HUD achieve their American Dream by becoming self-sufficient.

Today, we are announcing an investment in the future of HUD residents by awarding $74 million in FSS funds to hundreds of public housing authorities across the country, including $360,000 here in Philadelphia, to continue helping those HUD assists increase their income and reduce their dependency on public assistance and rental subsidies.

Too few of the families we serve believe the American Dream is not for them, but it is. And by working with our local partners this funding will help HUD assisted families believe they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to and climb the ladder of success.

HUD’s FSS Program operates by helping local Public Housing Authorities hire Service Coordinators who work directly with residents to connect them with programs and services that already exist in the local community. The program encourages innovative strategies that link housing assistance with a broad spectrum of services that will enable participating families to find jobs, increase earned income, reduce or eliminate the need for government assistance, and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency.

I said earlier this funding is an investment, and it is paying dividends. The average household income of FSS participants more than doubled during their time in the program, from $10,000 at the time of entry to more than $27,000 upon program completion. Any investor would love to have a 170 percent return on investment—this is something I am very proud of.

Before I conclude there’s one final aspect of the FSS program I want to highlight. Families who participate in this program do not see their rent increase when their earnings increase—a perverse incentive that is, unfortunately, in our current rent assistance structure. Instead any increase in earnings is placed into an escrow account. After completing the program, the family receives the escrow funds and can use them for any purpose, like a down payment on a home.

So thank you again for being here today, I look forward to taking some questions.

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