FSS Participant Journey

FSS Journey Map

Step 1


As a PHA resident, you hear about the FSS program through a welcome packet insert, community partner, staff member, family or friend.   

Step 2

Attend Orientation

Attend an orientation to learn more about the FSS program and it see if it is a god fit for you.  Orientations are held at Vaux High School the first Saturday of each Month at 10:00 am. 

Step 3

Enroll and Set Goals

You are excited about FSS and to meet with an FSS Counselor to enroll and set your initial goals for the program. 

Step 4

Meet One-on-One

You meet with your FSS Counselor on a regular basis to help make progress towards your goals.   

Step 5

Increase Income and Save

You increase your personal income, report it to PHA an begin to save (via the escrow account) if there is an increase in rent. 

Step 6

Achieve Goals

You continue to meet with your FSS Financial Counselor on a regular basis to report progress on your goals. 

Step 7

Graduate and Celebrate

You meet all criteria for graduation typically within five years of program enrollment.  In some cases, you can extend your participation by up to two years with just cause.

Am I eligible to join the program if I’m unemployed?

Yes, heads of household who are not currently employed are allowed – and encouraged – to join the program. To join the program, you must be willing to seek employment since it is a graduation requirement.

Can I add to the escrow savings account?

The only way to add to your FSS escrow account is through an increase in income from work. When your rent increases, you will still pay your new, higher rent to your housing authority, but that increase in rent will also be credited to your account.

Can I use the savings account for emergencies?

You cannot use the account for emergencies. You can, however, request an interim disbursement during the program if you plan to use the money to make progress on one of the goals you’ve outlined in your contract.

Do I have access to the escrow account anytime? Who manages this account?

You do not have access to the account during the program. Your housing authority manages the account for you.

Do I have to complete all five years of the program?

You do not have to complete the full five years, but you do need to complete the graduation requirements to receive the money in your savings. If you’ve completed all graduation requirements before your contract term is up, you can request an early graduation.

How does the FSS savings account work?

When you enroll in the program, your housing authority sets up and manages a FSS savings account for you. An increase in your rent because of an increase in earnings from work will result in a credit to your account.

If I am not working, but have a member of my household who is working, does that income count toward my FSS escrow account?

Yes, any increase in earnings from work in your household while you are enrolled in the program contributes to your FSS savings account. That also means that any earned income in your household when you enroll in the program will be included in the starting income on your contract.

If my rent decreases, is money taken out of my FSS escrow account?

No, during the program, money is only taken out of your escrow account when you request an interim disbursement to make progress toward one of your goals. When your income changes and you recertify with the housing authority your monthly escrow credit will change, but no money will be withdrawn from the account.

What are the graduation requirements?

There are three requirements you must meet to graduate from the program. First, you’ll need to be employed at the time of graduation. Second, all household members will need to be free of cash welfare assistance for at least 12 months prior to graduation. Finally, you must have completed the goals you set during the program.

What happens if I lose my voucher or public housing unit while participating in the program?

Unfortunately, if you lose your voucher or public housing unit while enrolled in FSS, you can no longer participate in the program. Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for an early graduation

What if I don’t complete my goals during my five-year contract?

To graduate and receive your savings, you will need to complete your goals. That said, you will be working with your FSS coordinator throughout the program to create and change goals as your interests and circumstances change.

What if I need more time to successfully complete the program?

If you need more time to complete the program, you can request an extension of up to two years depending on the circumstances. For example, if you have unexpected health issues or sudden job loss, you can request an extension.

What is the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program?

The FSS program can help you build a more stable financial future. As your income from work increases, your rent increase is saved in an escrow account that you’ll receive when you successfully complete the program. FSS is a five-year program.

Will I lose my voucher by joining the FSS program?

No, when you successfully complete the program, you may keep your rental assistance if you still need it. If you don’t graduate from the program, you also will not lose your voucher or public housing unit.