HUD's Jacksonville Multifamily FSS team. From left, Casey LaFever, Susan Stewart, Yvonne Coffman, Belinda Koros, Kerry Salvas, Eleanor Hammonds, and Casantry Griffin
The Jacksonville community is ready for it
When HUD announced in September of 2016 that privately-owned HUD-assisted multifamily apartment communities under Section 8 contract can now offer Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs, the Jacksonville team in Florida jumped at the opportunity to work on it. Field Policy and Management and Multifamily representatives started planning a strategy for the local community and, to help motivate owners to join the effort, invited successful organizations that have worked on similar efforts.
After months of work, the first outreach meeting took place on May 17th with a small group of owners and management agents who listened to the options available and learned how to implement the program. Three local practitioners shared their expertise. The Jacksonville Housing Authority described best practices and practical tips that have worked for them since 1993, when they voluntarily implemented the FSS program to assist families using the Housing Choice Voucher.
The Family Foundations of Northeast Florida team highlighted available resources and supportive services that can be tapped in the area. They designed a program in Jacksonville nearly five years ago to pull 1,000 area families out of poverty in 1,000 days by helping participants develop financial and life skills needed to maintain steps up and out of economic hardship. It is now an award-winning program that is emulated across the nation.
The City of Jacksonville Office of Strategic Partnerships shared their experience in leveraging effective partnerships in the public, private, non-profit and philanthropic sectors to work with residents to determine what skills and support services are needed on an individual basis.
The expanded FSS program has the potential to impact thousands of families nationwide: Its incentives and supports can help families living in HUD subsidized housing increase their earned income and reduce their dependence on public assistance programs. Click the link in case you missed the recent HUD notice expanding the program. After months of work, we have our local partners ready to help the families empower themselves into a better quality of life.