Leased Housing Family & Resident Services

Family Self-Sufficiency Program

Program Information

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program is a voluntary program designed to help participating households achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency through educational and employment services and training. Furthermore, the FSS program allows participants to develop personal savings from money that would traditionally go towards a rent increase. It also allows participants to put money aside that would normally go to a rent increase and save that money for their own future use.

The FSS program is available to residents of federal public housing and Section 8 participants that are in good standing.

The program helps and motivates participants by:

    - Providing case management services.
    - Identifying the barriers keeping participant’s from self-sufficiency.
    - Identifying the participant’s education and career goals.
    - Identifying the resources and services necessary for a participant’s success.
    - Developing an Individual Training and Service Plan (ITSP) to help participants achieve their specific goals and objectives for obtaining self-sufficiency.

If you are interested in joining or have further questions, please contact us at:

Worcester Housing Authority
Family Self-Sufficiency Program
Phone: (508) 635-3151
32 Great Brook Valley Avenue, Suite 3

Program Benefits

The benefits to participating in the program include:

    - Personalized support services to help participants achieve their goals.
    - A higher education and/or job training that will result in higher paying employment.
    - Savings: Participants save the money that would normally go to a rent increase for their own future use. As their income increases, the monetary difference between the original rent and what the current rent should be will be deposited into an escrow account and accrues interest. Upon successful completion of their goals and contract, the participant receives the money in this account.
    - Economic stability and improved life circumstance for you and your family.

Those who choose to join the program first undergo an orientation and assessment with a case manager, followed by the development of a personalized service plan, or ITSP. All participants also enter into a five year Contract of Participation with the WHA. During these five years, case manager and client work together to achieve the goals and objectives outlined in the service plan.

Program Benefits

    - The family has met all contract obligations by achieving the goals and objectives outlined in the service plan, and
    - The head of the household certifies that no household member is receiving federal, state or local welfare assistance for at least twelve months prior to contract completion, and
    - The head of household has held a full-time job for a minimum of twelve months prior to contract completion, or
    - 30% of the family's monthly adjusted income equals or exceeds the FMR (fair market rent) for the size unit for which the family qualifies.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will I lose my housing benefits if I join?
No. Participation in the FSS program is voluntary. You may continue to receive public housing benefits whether or not you complete the program. You have absolutely nothing to lose and a lot to gain by joining the program.

Do I have to be working to join?
No. FSS is open to any public housing residents of the Worcester Housing Authority. You do not have to be working to join, but your primary goal to graduate is to be working full time. During your five year contract you must be either going to school or working.

Do I have to be on welfare to join?
No. Again, the only requirement to join is that you are a public housing resident with the housing authority offering the FSS program (in this case, the WHA).

How does FSS work?
The Head of Household enters into a five-year contract with the FSS program. This contract contains the individual's employment and other goals and outlines the steps and activities to achieve each goal. The FSS Coordinator helps the family to obtain services and reach their goals. The goals are based upon each individual's plans. No two people on FSS have the same plan, it is based on what you want to achieve.

What is in it for me?
FSS participants receive assistance in locating services to help them achieve their various goals and objectives. Perhaps most exciting, however, is the financial incentive to join the program. As an FSS participant’s earned income increases, the WHA matches the increase in rent and places it into an escrow savings account. The participant continues to pay their rent portion like any Public Housing resident, but receives the escrow money (plus interest) upon successful completion of the contract. This money is not taxed as income.

What is the catch?
To successfully complete the program and receive your escrow money, you must complete all goals outlined in your service plan. Furthermore, for the last twelve months of the program, the head of household must be employed full time and all household members must be free of welfare (cash) assistance.


Worcester Housing Authority
40 Belmont Street
Worcester, MA 01605
Phone: 508-635-3000
Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM