The objective of the FSS program is to reduce the dependency of low-income families on public or welfare assistance and on
Section 8, low income housing, or any Federal, State, or local rent or homeownership subsidies. Under the FSS program, low-income families are provided opportunities for education, job training, counseling, and other forms of social service assistance, while living in assisted housing, so that they may obtain the education, employment, and social skills necessary to achieve self-sufficiency. HUD measures the success of a PHA's FSS program not only by the number of families who achieve self-sufficiency, but also by "the number of FSS families who, as a result of participation in the program, have family members who obtain their first job, or who obtain higher paying jobs; no longer need benefits received under one or more welfare programs; obtain a high school diploma or higher education degree; or accomplish similar goals that will assist the family in obtaining economic independence."
The Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) implemented its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program for Housing Choice Voucher participants for both the County and Manassas City in 1992 with the first families enrolled in 1993. June 2001 the City of Manassas/Manassas Park FSS Plan became independent of Prince William County. Each jurisdiction continues separate Action Plans. OHCD works with social service agencies, schools, businesses, and other local partners to help FSS Participants access services including but not limited to:
- child care
- education and training
- home-ownership counseling
The FSS Program is open for all HCV participants. OHCD periodically surveys all HCV participants to determine their interest in the program. The Coordinator for FSS discusses the FSS Program opportunity when applicants and participants attending their initial and transfer voucher briefings. The HCV Housing Program Specialist discusses the FSS opportunity with participants during their annual Recertification appointments. Applicants and participants who are interested in the program are invited to schedule an appointment to meet with the Coordinator to make application for the FSS Program.
The Coordinator completes a needs assessment of every participating FSS individual, to determine the services needed for the individual to achieve the goal of self-sufficiency. The Coordinator uses the needs assessment to develop an Individual Training and Services Plan (hereafter called a Service Plan) for the family. The Service Plan identifies the family's "ultimate goal", along with interim goals to meet the "ultimate" goal; outlines the activities the family needs to undertake to meet the interim goals; identifies the services the family may require to assist in completing the activities, and estimates time frames for completing activities, interim goals, and achievement of the family's "ultimate" goal. Upon completion of Service Plan, the Coordinator will prepare the family's FSS Contract of Participation. The FSS Contract includes the effective date, term, responsibilities of the Family and of the PHA and provisions for establishing an escrow account. After the Coordinator meets with the family and explains the Service Plan and FSS Contract, the family commits by signing the plan and the contract. The term of the FSS Contract is for five years and may be extended for up to two years.