HPN and Partners submit comments on the Family Self Sufficiency Program to Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
We commend the Committee’s interest in proposals to increase economic growth. We propose that the Committee support forthcoming legislation to be introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) to strengthen and expand HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program, which promotes employment and savings for families who receive federal housing assistance. (A draft of the bill, provided by Senator Reed’s office, is attached. Senator Blunt has agreed to co-sponsor legislation consistent with this draft bill.) The bill would make four key changes:
- Expand eligibility for FSS to residents of privately-owned properties receiving Project-based Rental Assistance (PBRA);
- Spur innovation in the FSS program by allowing HUD to set aside 5% of the funding made available for program coordinator costs to expand FSS programs with strong outcomes and innovative program design and partnership models;
- Improve the program’s efficiency and impact by streamlining the program’s administration and implementing performance based funding metrics; and
- Increase substantially the number of families able to participate in FSS through increased funding for FSS coordinators and allowing private owners to draw on reserve funds.
Congress has included the expansion to privately owned properties and administrative streamlining as part of annual appropriations bills. It is important to make these changes permanent, however, by incorporating them in the statute that governs the FSS program, in order to ensure that the policy changes will remain in place and to encourage more private owners to initiate FSS programs.
Congressional action is also needed to achieve the other goals. Adopted by Congress as part of the National Affording Housing Act of 1990 (also known as the CranstonGonzalez Act), the FSS program was proposed by HUD during Jack Kemp’s tenure as Secretary and has always had strong bipartisan support. FSS has the potential to support hundreds of thousands of low income families living in federally subsidized housing to increase their income, reduce their use of public assistance, and build savings, thereby enabling these families to move up and out of poverty and contribute to economic growth.
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