Housing authority to receive grant for job training, employment

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SALISBURY ó The Rowan County Housing Authority will receive a $90,000 grant to help low-income families find employment and job training.
Earlier this month, the agency announced that funding was approved for continuation of the Housing Choice Voucher Family Self-Sufficiency (HCV-FSS) program.
The local grant is part of $1.7 million awarded in North Carolina by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These funds will help public housing agencies retain or hire service coordinators to work directly with families who participate in its HCV program.
According to a September press release from HUD, the coordinators will help voucher recipients find employment resources and job training opportunities to ěput them on a path toward self-sufficiency.î
ěIn todayís economy, itís never been more critical to help families obtain the skills that lead to jobs,î said Ed Jennings Jr., HUD Southeast Regional Administrator, in the press release. ěWith HUDís help, these housing agencies will be able to assist families in finding employment, increasing their earning potential and putting them on a path to self sufficiency.î
Families who receive assistance under the HCV program are eligible to participate in the HCV-FSS program, which was established in 1990 by Section 554 of the National Affordable Housing Act.
The HCV-FSS program supports public housing agencies to retain or hire family self-sufficiency coordinators.
These coordinators in turn link adults in the HCV program with welfare agencies, schools, businesses and other local partners to develop the skills and experience to enable them to obtain jobs that pay a living wage.
The local organizations typically provide participating individuals job training, childcare, counseling, transportation, job placement and homeownership counseling.
Participants in the HCV-FSS program sign a contract that requires the head of the household will get a job and the family will no longer receive welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term.
As the familyís income rises, a portion of that increased income is deposited in an interest-bearing escrow account.
If the family completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including a down payment on a home, paying educational expenses, starting a business or paying back debts.
The Rowan County Housing Authority currently has 147 families enrolled in the HCV-FSS program, of which 74 have escrow accounts, according to the local agencyís press release.
Seven of those participants have completed the FSS program. Two of them have utilized the homeownership counseling and have used their escrow funds as down payments for the purchase of a home.
Of the six employees assigned to Section 8, two work directly with the FSS Program ó the FSS coordinator and FSS case manager.
For the past three years, the press release said, the Rowan County Housing Authority has been designated as a high performer in both the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing programs.