The Housing Authority of Island County in Coupeville recently received a $51,269 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to go toward the salaries and benefits of the Family Self Sufficiency coordinator. This year the grant was about $3,000 more than usual, according to Teri Anania, housing authority executive director.
The Family Self Sufficiency program is for individuals enrolled in the Section 8 housing program who are recipients of housing rental vouchers to pursue educational and employment opportunities with the aim of eventually diminishing or eliminating their need for rental assistance. Section 8 is a federal housing assistance program for low-income households.
This program is in its 25th year, and Anania said it’s been successful with many of these clients moving on to the housing authority’s home ownership program.
The program coordinators work with residents to connect them with programs and services that exist in the local community to enable families to find jobs, increase earned income and make progress toward achieving economic independence.
“It’s very unique to the family,” said Anania, regarding the assistance provided by the coordinator.
Participants in the program sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and that no member of the household will receive public assistance at the end of the term.
These families have an interest-bearing escrow account established for them based on their earned income during the term of the contract.
If all the terms of the contract are met, the family receives those funds that can be used for any purpose, including improving credit scores, paying educational expenses or a down payment on a home. HUD is in the process of conducting a long-term study of the impact on individuals in the program, and the first set of results are expected in 2018.
A previous study from 2007 to 2016 showed the average household income of someone who had gone through the program more than doubled from the time of entry to completion.