The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher residents who are motivated to work toward economic self-sufficiency. It is a voluntary program that helps participants create a five-year plan, assist in finding the resources to meet their professional and personal goals, work towards earning a living wage, and gives them the opportunity to earn money to use as an asset in the future.
Participants graduate from the program having met their educational, job training and/or employment goals. Goals range from acquiring a GED, career and job exploration, college degree or certificate, job specific program certificate, improving credit, preparing for home or small business ownership, and creating a healthier lifestyle. The program connects FSS members with resources that may help them increase their earned income and manage their money and lives wisely.
If you have questions or would like to sign up, please contact us at 707-257-9414.
Frequently Asked Questions
FSS and Public Assistance
Will I lose my housing assistance if I don’t graduate from FSS?
No. You will not lose your housing, and may leave voluntarily at any time. However, if there has been money set aside in your escrow account for you, you will forfeit that money.
Will I lose my housing assistance if I do graduate from FSS?
No. The goal of the FSS program is to help you reach self-sufficiency and earn a living wage; however, graduation requires only that you complete your own goals, be suitably employed, and be off cash aid for a year prior to the end of the contract. If you are far enough along the path to self-sufficiency by the time you graduate from FSS, you may be earning enough money that you will no longer be eligible for Section 8; that’s a great thing for you! If you graduate from FSS but still meet the income guidelines, you will continue to receive your housing assistance.
What do I have to do to join FSS?
You must be receiving Section 8 rental assistance, indicate your interest to the FSS Coordinator, attend an orientation, and complete an application and an assessment form. You will be required to sign a contract of participation, and create a five-year plan defining the goals that will help you reach self-sufficiency.
What do I need to do to stay on FSS?
You must seek and maintain employment during the duration of your five years on FSS (seeking employment may include full-time job training and education). You must maintain contact with your FSS case manager, respond to requests for progress reports, work towards completing your goals and activities, and remain in good standing with the Section 8 program.
In addition to any interims or scheduled annuals, participants are required to maintain contact with their case manager at least four times a year regarding ITSP activities and program status or progress. Contact can be by telephone, email, mail, or face-to-face contact. In the beginning, you may need more support and you may need to meet with your FSS Coordinator more often. Throughout your participation, we are available to help guide you to resources that can help you accomplish your goals.
What if my goals change?
You can make changes to your ITSP at any time. However, the changes must be agreed upon by both you and your case manager, and if you remove any goals, they must be replaced by a reasonable alternative that will equally further your progress toward self-sufficiency.
Will my FSS escrow account count against me for Housing, Welfare, SSI, etc?
No, funds in the escrow account are not your money. The money belongs to the Housing Authority until you have completed all your goals necessary for you to graduate. When you graduate, you will receive a lump sum that is non-taxable. It may impact some benefits but should this happen your FSS Coordinator will be available to assist you in researching your options and coming up with a plan.
Can anyone else in my family join FSS?
Any other adult in your household may create an ITSP and access FSS resources. However, there will be only one escrow account, and the Head of Household must be suitably employed by the end of the contract period.
What if my family member who lives with me is receiving cash aid for his/her child?
Everyone in the household must be off cash aid twelve (12) consecutive months prior to graduating. The exception to this rule would be if someone was receiving cash aid for a non-needy relative. This is a specific program, so your FSS Coordinator would work with you to ensure you are in compliance and inform you if you were not.
I have a disability and cannot work full time; can I join FSS?
As with all our programs, we will make reasonable accommodation for your disability. In some cases that accommodation may mean working fewer hours, or working from home. The accommodation must match your needs as verified by your physician. Typically, we refer FSS participants to the Department of Rehabilitation, who can help with retraining.
I already have a case manager at another agency; will you coordinate?
You may sign a release of information form allowing your FSS case manager to talk to your other case manager(s). Your FSS case manager will do their best to coordinate with your other case managers to ensure that your various service plans are realistic and in line with one another and there is no duplication of services.
What do I have to do to start earning Escrow?
To escrow, you must increase your earned income. Your income must go above your income at contract signing. Once your wages go up, your portion of the rent will go up too and that change in rent will be deposited into the escrow account.
The Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program works with support agencies throughout Napa County to help families develop the strengths, skills and experience necessary to achieve economic independence. The FSS program is a team effort involving your family, the FSS Case Manager, and the job training, educational and social service agencies that will lend you a hand along your journey towards economic self-sufficiency. With the FSS Coordinator, you will develop an Individual Training and Service Plan (ITSP) that outlines your personal goals in addition to HUD’s mandatory goals of employment, independence of welfare (cash assistance) and the individual steps that you will take to accomplish these goals. You will also receive referrals to other agencies who work with FSS families, such as schools, social service agencies, and job training programs to help you accomplish your goals.