Funding allows local entities to hire new employees or retain approximately 650 jobs across the U.S.
WASHINGTON -The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week awarded nearly $100 million in grants to help public and assisted housing residents find employment; connect with needed services; and help the elderly and people with disabilities maintain independent living. The funding also allows the grantees to retain or hire service coordinators or case workers to work directly with these HUD-assisted families to connect them to the supportive services that meet their individual needs.
The funding announced this week includes: Approximately $35 million through the Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency Service Coordinators Program (ROSSSC) Program; approximately $15 million through the Public Housing Family Self-Sufficiency Program (PH-FSS); and $45 million through the Multifamily Housing Service Coordinator Program (MHSC).
Providing housing assistance alone is often not enough to help individuals increase their independence, said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The service coordinators funded through these programs open doors that help HUD-assisted families find jobs, access services and assist the elderly and disabled to continue living as independently as possible in their homes.
The ROSS-SC and PH-FSS programs allow grantees across the U.S. hire or retain service coordinators to work directly with residents to assess their needs to connect them with education, job training and placement programs and/or computer and financial literacy services available in their community to promote self-sufficiency. Only public housing authorities are eligible for PH-FSS grants. ROSS-SC grants can be awarded to public housing authorities, resident associations and non-profit organizations. Grantees that receive ROSS-SC grants can also use the funding for this purpose, which allows the elderly or persons with disabilities who live in public housing to maintain their independent lifestyle.
In a similar fashion, the MHSC program provides funding to owners of private housing developments under contract from HUD to house low-income individuals. These owners, or their management companies, hire or contract service coordinators with backgrounds in providing social services, especially to the elderly and people with disabilities, to assist their residents with special needs.
Combined, HUD estimates this funding will allow the grantees to hire new employees or retain approximately 650 service coordinators that are currently working with HUD-assisted individuals.
The purpose of the ROSSSC and PH-FSS programs is to encourage local, innovative strategies that link public housing assistance with public and private resources to enable participating families to increase earned income; reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance; and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency.
Public housing residents who participate in the PH-FSS program sign a contract with the housing authority, which outlines their responsibilities towards completion of training and employment objectives over a five-year period. For those families receiving welfare assistance, the housing authority must establish an interim goal that the participating family be independent from welfare assistance prior to the expiration of the contract. During their participation, residents may create an escrow account funded with their increasing income, which they may use in a variety of ways, including continuing their education or making major purchase.
HUDs Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a long-standing resource for increasing economic security and self-sufficiency among participants. HUD issued a new report earlier this year that evaluated the effectiveness of the FSS Program. Conducted from 2005 to 2009, the study shows the financial benefits are substantial for participants who remain and complete the program. This study is the second of a three-part series by HUD that evaluate the effects of the FSS program. The first study found individuals who participated in the FSS program fared better financially than those who did not enroll in the program. HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) will launch the third and final installment to complete the series this year.
The MFSC program allows multifamily housing owners to assist elderly individuals and nonelderly people with disabilities living in HUD-assisted housing and in the surrounding area to obtain needed supportive services from the community, to enable them to continue living independently. The grants are awarded for an initial three-year period to eligible owners of multifamily housing for the elderly or disabled, to enable them to hire and support a service coordinator. The funds cover such costs as salary, fringe benefits, quality assurance, training, office space, equipment, and other related administrative expenses. A report HUD released in 2009 noted that aging in place reduces rates of premature institutionalization for low-income elderly residents, thus reducing the costs borne by taxpayers.