The Wilson Housing Authority landed a $59,500 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant that will continue to increase participation in its Family Self-Sufficiency program.
The program allows the WHA to work directly with people to set and attain goals that lead to employment and, ultimately, allow them to become self-sufficient and move out of supportive housing.
“We’ve shown there is demand for the program,” said Kelly Vick, WHA president and chief executive officer. He said the agencu has had a good track record for those who come into the program and graduate.
The program now serves between 50 and 70 families annually. HUD funding is based on the level of participation and this funding will help the WHA get more people into the program.
The program helps Section 8 and public housing recipients who pay monthly rental costs based on their income. The HUD grant allows the WHA to hire service coordinators who work with residents to help them find jobs and increase their income so they can become self-sufficient in order to move out of public housing.
Vick said the housing authority brings a family in and figures out what their unemployment barriers are and how to overcome those barriers, whether it be through education, transportation or child care.
“It could be a number of things,” Vick said. “We work with them and community partners to overcome those barriers.”
The program offers financial rewards for successful completion of the program. As participants find work, their public housing rent increases, but the WHA puts the additional rent cost into escrow. After families reach their goals and become self-sufficient, they receive the money set aside.
Those escrow funds have even helped participants put a down payment on a home. Housing authority officials have continued to see many success stories of people who are now empowered and are self-sufficient.
The stories are powerful, Vick said, because it shows their rise from unemployment to quality employment through the Family Self-Sufficiency program.
“We are hoping to continue to improving and growing the program,” he said. “We are always recruiting.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the program can call the WHA at 252-291-2245.