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Your five-year plan? Make it happen!

The Family Self-Sufficiency Program

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a five-year program that provides supportive counseling, financial education, and credit success workshops to Way Finders' Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher participants. Participants will work one-on-one with Economic Mobility Specialists to develop an action plan for reaching their goals, whether that be to secure employment, further their education, purchase a home, or start a business. 

FSS Program participants will receive a financial incentive of an escrow account in their name that they will have access to after graduating the program. The maximum funds a participant can receive is $25,000.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be a Way Finders' Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Participant
  • Be ready, willing, and able to try new and exciting things

What services should I expect to receive in the program?

Your FSS Specialist will help you overcome obstacles by linking you to helpful services including:

  • Advanced education and skill training
  • ESL and HiSET (GED) classes
  • Credit improvement and support
  • Financial Education
  • Homeownership preparation

How does the escrow account work?

The escrow account participants can earn is credited with a portion of the increase of rent paid that would otherwise result from increases in earned income. The maximum escrow account earned is $25,000. After 12 months of being economically stable without public assistance and you have completed your FSS goals, you'll receive the money that was saved on your behalf

Graduates of the program have used their escrow account for things like:

  • Furthering their education
  • Starting a business
  • A down payment on a home
  • Fulfilling personal goals for themselves and their family

FSS Match Dollar Program

Way Finders’ Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Match Dollar Program provides eligible Section 8 participants an opportunity to save money towards homeownership. The MA Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) will match up to $4,000 in savings, for a total up to $12,000*. Combining the Match Dollar Program with the FSS Homeownership bonus, participants may potentially save up to $21,000 for a home. 

*Match money can only be used towards the purchase of a home. 

Match Dollar Eligibility Requirements

  • Have Household Earned Income of 50% or below of Area Median Income (established by region)
  • Are committed to purchasing a home
  • Have not earned more than $13,000 in escrow if they are re-enrolling 
  • Agree to open a new bank account and share their deposit history 
  • Agree to attend all required workshops and meet mortgage requirements

What if the participant is a current FSS participant?

Current FSS participants who meet the income guidelines and are not earning escrow (or earning less than $150 in monthly escrow) are eligible to become participants in the program 

What are the mortgage requirements?

In order to use your matched savings, you must be purchasing a home with an eligible mortgage. 

  • Must use a 30 year, fixed interest mortgage
  • FSS graduate must be the signer or co-signer on the mortgage
  • Mortgage cannot require Private Mortgage Insurance 

There will be no exceptions to the mortgage requirements

What workshops and trainings are required?

In addition to the CHAPA-approved Homebuyer Education Class Required Additional Workshops will include:
Legal Aspects of Homebuying 

  • Presentations from realtors
  • Community and house tours/open houses 
  • Presentations from Inspectors
  • Mortgage Presentations from Lenders who meet mortgage requirements 
  • Financial Coaching for Homeownership as needed to ensure participants qualify for the mortgage product – credit repair and debt reduction 

Savings and Match Deposits details

Participants must open a new dedicated savings account upon enrollment in the program (or selecting to enroll in this program for existing participants).  The savings of participants must always be in the account for more than 30 days in order to generate match funds from the EOHLC. 

  • Participants who enroll in the program may not use any portion of existing (saved at the time of enrollment) household savings to generate Savings Match.  
  • All Savings Match must be generated by new participant savings begun after enrollment.  
  • No more than 25% of participant savings total should be generated by gifts. 
  • Withdrawals from pre-tax retirement or other restricted use savings vehicles will not be allowed to count as savings for match. 
  • No more than $2,000 in participant savings will be matched in a 12-month period.
  • Savings Deposits must be made at least annually. Participants are encouraged to save a set amount per month. 

Can participants access their money if they need it?

Participants can access their own savings account as needed. Participants cannot access match money until purchasing a home. 

If the participant is withdrawing the funds in this account frequently, the FSS Coordinator may discuss why this is happening, and attempt to determine if the participant is able to manage their regular expenses without these savings.

Can participants earn escrow AND Match?

Yes. Participants will be encouraged to report increased earnings in order to establish escrow accounts. 

Participants can continue to save money for match, but the amount of match they can leverage is the difference between their escrow total and $12,000.

Remember, the goal of this program is not to replace and match traditional escrow, but to help participants earn up to $12,000 for homeownership.

For example, if a household in the FSS program experiences an increase in earned income, and earns $2,500 in federal escrow funds, the family may continue to save money in their Matched Savings Account and earn up to $9,500 based on the savings of the household.