Congress Passes, President Signs Law to Improve and Expand the Family Self-Sufficiency Program

President Trump signed the “Family Self-Sufficiency Act” into law on May 24. The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Act was included in a larger deregulation bill (S. 2155) that passed the House on May 22. The FSS law permanently reauthorizes the program, combines the FSS programs for Housing Choice Vouchers and public housing, which are currently run separately, and expands eligibility to include families in privately owned properties subsidized with HUD project-based rental assistance. The program also offers new services for financial literacy and educational attainment.

The FSS program has had bi-partisan and bi-cameral support. The bill had earlier been introduced as standalone legislation (S. 1344/HR 4258) by Representatives Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Congress created the FSS Program in 1990 to help housing-assistance recipients increase their incomes and build their savings.  Since its establishment, the FSS program has enabled families living in public or project-based assisted housing or using Housing Choice Vouchers to access workforce training and other resources to pursue higher paying employment opportunities. Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) recipients contribute 30% of their incomes toward rent and utilities, with the voucher paying the remaining housing costs up to the public housing agency’s payment standard. Typically, as recipients’ incomes rise, so do the rents they must pay. The FSS Program allows households with increasing incomes to place their additional rent contributions in a savings account for future use. The savings are accumulated in an escrow account over a five-year period. If tenants remain employed and do not receive cash assistance for one year, they can use these savings toward their financial goals.

In 2014, Congress extended the FSS program to Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) properties, giving property owners the option to develop an FSS program.

Read more about the bill at:

Read a letter from NLIHC and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities supporting the bill at: