Family Self-Sufficiency Program

FSS Coordinating Committee

  • Vanessa Amon, West Michigan Works
  • Deborah Conley, Michigan Family Resources
  • Yolanda Duncan, Grand Rapids Community College
  • John Gill, West Michigan Works
  • Stephanie Gingerich, LINC
  • Pamela Houtteman, Goodwill Industries
  • Kathleen Papke, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
  • Samantha Rose, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
  • Kathleen Russo, Chemical Bank
  • Megan Seely, Goodwill Industries
  • Berniz Terpstra, Inner City Christian Federation
  • GRHC Staff Representatives:
  • Jennifer Boerman, Resident Services Manager
  • Wanda Couch, Lead Resident Services Specialist
  • Maria Lara, Resident Services Specialist
  • Wyoming Housing Commission Representatives:
  • Rebeca Venema, Executive Director
  • Myra Iacovoni, FSS/Section 8 Coordinator
  • Kimberly Ross-Brown, FSS/Section 8 Coordinator
  • Kent County Community Action Representatives:
  • Noelia Garcia, FSS/Section 8 Coordinator
  • Emily Stroka, FSS/Section 8 Coordinator

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Building a Stronger Financial Future

Families that participate in Grand Rapids Housing Commission affordable-housing programs generally pay 30 percent of their income toward rent; so an increase in earned income typically results in a rent increase.

When a client enrolls in the GRHC’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program, we establish an escrow account for the family in which we deposit roughly the amount of the rent increase each month. Escrow can accrue for up to five years, and clients who successfully complete the FSS Program receive these funds. Many families use their FSS funds toward the purchase of a home.

More than 400 West Michigan families currently participate in the Grand Rapids Housing Commission’s FSS Program. During 2018, the GRHC disbursed a total of $412,335 to 36 program graduates.

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How the FSS Program Works

  • The program is available to residents of GRHC housing developments and participants in our Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
  • Eligible families sign an FSS contract that outlines the responsibilities of both the family and the GRHC.
  • Each family that enrolls in the program is assigned a “case manager,” an experienced GRHC staff member who helps the family set goals and also links family members with such community resources as child care, transportation, job training and employment counseling services. The family is required to meet with the case manager three times each year, but may request additional support as needed.
  • To successfully complete the program, a family must:
    • Be free of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance for at least the last 12 months of its FSS contract. A family can continue to receive food stamps, medical assistance, child care assistance, work supports (transportation assistance, short-term benefits under TANF), or SSI, SSDI or Social Security yet still obtain the funds in the escrow account.
    • Have income from gainful employment for the last 12 months of the FSS contract.

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