FAMILY SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM Q&A
WHO THE FSS PROGRAM BENEFITS:
- People moving from welfare to work.
- People who are already working, but plan to increase their earned income through raises, promotions, better jobs, or more hours at work.
- People who are attending college or job training to upgrade their skills and get a better job.
- People saving up to buy their own home, start a business, or meet other long-term financial goals.
Continue reading here and visit the FSS & Homeownership Page
WHAT IS THE FAMILY SELF-SUFFICIENCY (FSS) PROGRAM?
The FSS program is designed to help families in the Housing Choice Voucher and Low Income Public Housing programs become more self-sufficient. Here’s how it works:
- You sign a Contract of Participation that outlines your goals and your plan to reach those goals.
- As your family’s earned income (wages and other income from work) increases, we put money aside in an account for you. The amount we put aside is based on your increase in earned income and other factors.
- When you reach your goal, we send you all the money in your account. You must complete your goal within five years to get the money.
- There is no other penalty to you if you don’t reach your goal. In fact, you have nothing to lose by joining the FSS program.
WHAT KIND OF GOALS WOULD I HAVE TO MEET TO PARTICIPATE IN FSS?
There are two goals that all families must meet in order to participate:
- In the last year of the Contract of Participation, no household member can receive GA or TANF,
- The head of household must seek and maintain suitable employment.
The rest of the goals are up to you. Examples of goals that families set for themselves include:
- Completing a GED or getting a college degree.
- Completing a job training or welfare-to-work program.
- Getting a new job or a better job.
- Getting a raise or promotion at the job you already have.
- Learning about homeownership and buying a home.
- Starting a small business.
WHAT OTHER PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS ARE THERE?
In order to enroll in the program, you must submit an Interest Card, attend an Orientation and then complete an enrollment meeting when you will sign a Contract of Participation.
Family are required to update progress quarterly, complete at least one in-person meeting per year and complete the Annual Progress Report.
Also, you may request permission to make changes to your Contract goals.
Before you can receive the funds in your account, you must provide verification that you met your goals. This may include proof of income, proof that no one in the family receives welfare, and proof that you’ve met other goals like getting a college degree.
You must notify us when you reach your goal. There will be no additional funds deposited into your account after you reach your goal. The sooner you notify us, the sooner you can receive the money.
You will “graduate” and get your money automatically if your family’s monthly income reaches a certain upper limit. This amount changes every year, and we can calculate it for you when you enroll.
CAN I ENROLL NOW?
The Housing Authority has a limited number of slots for FSS families. If you think you may be interested in enrolling, we encourage you to call (925) 957-7027 or email FSS@ContraCostaHousing.org now.
Remember, you have nothing to lose by joining the FSS program! If you plan to increase your earned income, this program can help you build a savings account for your future.
HCV HOMEOWNERSHIP Q&A
TIPS FOR PREPARING FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP
- Attend a Homeownership seminar at the Housing Authority (available to FSS members, graduates and eligible families who completed a statement declining FSS enrollment following attendance at an FSS orientation)
- Start a savings account. Even saving a small amount will show a lender that you have been working toward your goal.
- Develop a budget for the whole family.
- Work to improve your credit score and pay off debts.
- Be realistic about the size and type of home that you may be able to afford.
Continue reading here and visit the FSS & Homeownership Page
HOW DOES THE HCV HOMEOWNERSHIP PROGRAM WORK?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) includes a homeownership program. Under the new program, participants who qualify may have their monthly housing assistance payment applied to a mortgage payment rather than rent.
- You may be eligible to participate if:
- You have participated in the HCV program for at least one year
- At least one member of your family works 30 hours per week or more, and your family earns more than the minimum allowable earned income. (This amount changes annually. There are some exceptions for elderly or disabled persons. Participants must have enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan)
- You are in good standing with the HCV program (no program violations or outstanding debts)
- No one in your household has owned a home for the last 3 years.
WILL THE HOUSING AUTHORITY HELP ME FIND A HOUSE AND GET A LOAN
The Housing Authority can provide counseling, education, and information, but it is your responsibility to qualify for a mortgage and find a home to buy.
Here’s how it works:
- You attend an HCV Homeownership Workshop, complete the pre-application and one-on-one counseling sessions as needed to learn about the home-buying process.
- If you meet the minimum requirements, we will provide a list of lenders that are familiar with the HCV program at an eligibility meeting, and it is your responsibility to choose a lender and apply for a mortgage. You do not have to choose a lender from the list.
- You and your lender can use the Eligibility Worksheet on our website to review the basic requirements.
- We will give you some house-hunting tips, and you may select a real estate agent and begin searching for a home you can afford.
- We determine your final eligibility after you find a home to purchase.
HOW MUCH ASSISTANCE WILL I QUALIFY FOR?
The amount of assistance you would get from the HCV Homeownership Program depends on your income and your total monthly homeownership costs. In general, the amount of assistance may be similar to what the Housing Authority pays your landlord now as rental assistance.
As part of your homeownership counseling sessions, we will help you estimate the amount of assistance you may receive.
This assistance may be sent directly to you every month, or to your lender, depending on what you and your lender decide.
Your assistance payments would be continually adjusted as your income and housing costs change.
In most cases, your homeownership assistance payments would end after 15 years, or sooner if your income increases so that you are able to afford your entire monthly payment.
HOW MUCH WILL I NEED FOR A DOWN PAYMENT?
The amount of the down payment depends on the price of the home you buy and your lender’s requirements.
You are required to make a down payment of at least 3% of the purchase price. 1% must come from your own savings, and the rest may be a gift from a friend or relative.
You will also be responsible for paying closing costs, which may cost several thousand dollars.
If you participate in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, you may use the funds in your escrow account for your down payment if you complete your FSS contract.
The Housing Authority offers other programs that may provide additional down payment assistance. The requirements for each program are different. We will give you more information about these programs at the HCV Homeownership Seminar.
WHAT KIND OF MORTGAGE CAN I APPLY FOR?
If you are participating in the HCV Homeownership program, you must receive a conventional, fixed-rate mortgage from a lender we approve. Adjustable rate mortgages, balloon payments, and seller financing are not permitted with the HCV Homeownership program.