Housing Authority of Asheville: Family Self Sufficiency Program & Homeownership Program

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a voluntary program anyone receiving housing assistance is eligible for. The four main goals of the program are to enable families to 1) cut back on welfare assistance 2) improve their job skills 3) improve their educational skills and 4) have an opportunity to build savings/assets.

The family will meet with the Family Self-Sufficiency coordinator to discuss their goals and pinpoint barriers which may have prevented them from achieving their goals in the past. Many families have goals regarding money management, job/life skills, parenting, transportation, establishing credit/credit repair, education, and health/wellness (smoking cessation or perhaps cooking more nutritional meals at home). The program is designed to be a 5 year program; participants may reach goals before 5 years or could be eligible for up to a 2 year extension (maximum program allowance is 7 years)

The FSS program has an incentive which some tenants may be eligible for: the Housing Authority will match the difference in their rent portion which occurs as a result of any increases in their earned income while on the program. When the participant joins the FSS program, we establish a baseline. As the participant has increases in their earned income (new job if not employed prior, a raise, or more hours) and their rent increases as a result of the earned income increasing, we match that difference in to an escrow account on the tenant’s behalf each month.

Let’s use Sally as an example:

FSS Baseline:                                    —Gains Employment —                                       Current Amounts

Sally gets child support $100/mo                                                                            Sally gets $100/mo (child support)

Sally earns $400/mo (wages)

Total Rent for unit: $600                                                                                             Total Rent for unit: $600

Sally pays – $50                                                                                                                  Sally pays – $350

Housing Assistance Payment – $550                                                                      Housing Assistance Payment – $250

 

Sally’s portion of rent started with her baseline of $50 and has risen to $350 because of the increase in her earned income. We would deposit $300 a month in to an escrow account on Sally’s behalf every month she pays the higher rent portion! If Sally gained her employment a year in to her FSS participation and continued for the remaining four years, she would have accrued $14,400 in her escrow account! When Sally meets all of her goals, she is eligible for graduation and the Housing Authority will disburse the funds to her so she can do what she would like with them! Maybe Sally needs a new car, maybe she can pay off a chunk of debt, or maybe she could use those monies as a down payment!

“Kelly moved into a stable job after joining the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program and ultimately increased her wages over $38,000 a year. She also saved over $19,000 in her FSS escrow account and purchased her own home through the Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership program.”

Homeownership Program

The Asheville Housing Authority also has a first-time homebuyer program for our tenant-based voucher holders. Once the family purchases a house, the Housing Authority will assist them with a portion of their mortgage payment, as opposed to a portion of their rent!

The assistance is calculated the same way it is for the rental program, so if Sally moved in to homeownership after she graduated from the Family Self-sufficiency program and her mortgage amount due to her lender was $600, we would still assist her with $250 a month to help with the mortgage payment.

To qualify for the homeownership program, the tenant-based voucher holder will need to be full-time employed for 12 months OR be considered an elderly/disabled household, must not have been on any type of purchase agreement of a home within the last three years; and they must have at least $300 in savings prior to closing. They will have to elect to purchase or build their home in Buncombe County and it will need to be a single family home.

The families will have to secure outside financing; the Housing Authority isn’t helping with the lump sum to purchase the home, we are helping to make the payments back to the lender after close. However, the Housing Authority can assist clients in referrals and case management to get credit, finances, and (if necessary) employment in order to qualify for a loan.

“Monthly housing assistance provided through the Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program afforded Lana, wife and mother to seven children, the opportunity to provide a stable home for her family while continuing her education.”

To find out more about these programs,  call Katelyn Mattox at 828-239-3536 or email kmattox@haca.org

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This story is part of a series collected by The Success Equation. Under the umbrella of Children First/CIS, the Success Equation is an initiative that unites community to reduce and prevent the root causes of poverty so all children can thrive. Get involved! Learn about action steps, volunteer opportunities, and help share these messages by going to www.facebook.com/SuccessEquation. To find more, go to www.successequation.org.