The CMHA Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program

What is the Family Self-Sufficiency Program?

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program established in 1990 to help HCVP and LIPH programs residents to obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency.

The FSS program is available to all families receiving CMHA rental assistance. It’s voluntary and designed to assist families in becoming self-sufficient so that they no longer need to rely on public assistance. This program is available to all CMHA residents and the only requirement is the desire, willingness and commitment to make a change in your life and to take the steps necessary to become self-sufficient. Hundreds of families all over the country are already making better lives for themselves through this program.

CMHA residents will be linked to supportive programs such as job training, educational opportunities, homeownership training/counseling, financial literacy, counseling, after school programs, child care, health care, housekeeping services and English as a Second Language.

How does the FSS Program Work?

The FSS program is a voluntary program that provides support and assistance to CMHA residents and their families for up to five years. The purpose of this program is to help families with the assistance of community partners to become self-sufficient by attaining established goals.

The Head of the Household enters into an agreement with CMHA in which an Individual Training Service Plan (ITSP) is developed to identify the family's employment goals. It outlines the activities and services required to achieve these goals. A FSS Coordinator will support the FSS participant, take an interest in your future, and will refer you to public agencies and resources available in Cuyahoga County. FSS Coordinators will assist you in achieving your objectives by combining housing assistance with a number of other services. In this five year program (some families need less time), families can establish an escrow account (a savings account) that is often used to help pay for such things as a college education, a car, and/or the down payment on a new home.

Escrow Account:

CMHA will establish an escrow account (savings account) when participants join the FSS Program. This is approximately 30% of a participant’s monthly adjusted income. Increases in rent due to increases in earned income are put into an escrow. This escrow account will be awarded to the FSS participant when they have successfully completed their FSS Contract of Participation. This account automatically saves escrow for the FSS participant and could help to reach any goals or personal endeavors they may have. The amount of money earned in an escrow account depends upon your participation.

What will be required?

COMMITMENT! You will bring their own unique talents, skills and strengths to the FSS Program. CMHA will require you to be determined and committed in completing the activities listed in your ITSP. You will keep in touch FSS Coordinator regarding their progress towards self-sufficiency and meet with your FSS Coordinator twice a year in order to discuss and update your goals and activities.

Program Coordinating Council (PCC):

The PCC represents various community organizations that provide their time, resources and expertise in supporting the FSS Program. It is because of this support that the program is successful and that so many of the participants are able to turn their lives around and achieve their goals. CMHA FSS PCC Members are:

  • Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland
  • Catholic Charities
  • Ohio Means Jobs
  • Sherwin Williams
  • Cleveland Public Theater
  • Care Alliance
  • Seeds of Literacy
  • Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland (CEOGC)
  • Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C)
  • Towards Employment
  • Fifth/Third Bank

After joining FSS and working with numerous resources, graduates leave the FSS Program having set their own goals, worked to achieve those goals, and changed their own lives to realize dreams they thought were never before possible.

Are you ready to start changing and improving your life?

Download the FSS Application (PDF)

Download the FSS Flyer (PDF)

Please contact the FSS Team:

FSS Coordinators:

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program 2016 Accomplishments

Low Income Public Housing (LIPH)
Accomplishment Total
New Recruits   49
Successful Graduates  1
Attending 3 or More Seminars & Workshops     29
Enrolled in GED Program 10
Enrolled in Post-Secondary Education  8
Program Involved in Job Retention Activities  26
Individualized Financial Counseling 57
Homeownership Counseling 12
Families Serviced 149
Families Enrolled in Job Training 28
Obtained Associates Degree 2
Obtained Bachelor’s Degree 1
Obtained Certification from Technical School  6
Obtained Employment / Apprenticeship 38
Employment increased from Part-time to Full-time 11
Received Promotions or New Jobs 13
Maintained Employment Greater than one year 20
Accomplishment Total
New Recruits      120
Successful Graduates 14
Participants Attending 3 or More Seminars & Workshops  117
Enrolled in GED Program 24
Enrolled in Post-Secondary Educational Program 59
Involved in Job Retention Activities 77
Individualized Financial Counseling 116
Homeownership Counseling 71
Families Serviced by Coordinators 373
Families Enrolled in Job Training 57
Obtained Associates Degree 7
Obtained Bachelor’s Degree 3
Obtained Master’s Degree 3
Obtained Certification from Technical School 17
Obtained Employment / Apprenticeship 100
Employment increased from Part-time to Full-time 64
Received Promotions or New Jobs 53
Maintained Employment Greater than one year 109
RAD Participants (New Construction) 3
Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP)
Accomplishment Total
New Recruits      71
Successful Graduates 13
Attending 3 or More Seminars & Workshops  88
Enrolled in GED Program 14
Enrolled in Post-Secondary Education  51
Program Involved in Job Retention Activities 51
Individualized Financial Counseling  59
Homeownership Counseling 59
Families Serviced 224
Families Enrolled in Job Training 29
Obtained Associates Degree 5
Obtained Bachelor’s Degree 2
Obtained Master’s Degree 3
Obtained Certification from Technical School  11
Obtained Employment / Apprenticeship 62
Employment increased from Part-time to Full-time 53
Received Promotions or New Jobs 40
Maintained Employment Greater than one year 89


13 Workshops were offered to participants
Seminar/Workshop Date Attendees
Resume/ Interviewing Workshop 2/24 26
Job Etiquette 3/23 23
Financial Literacy   4/20 67
Partner Fair 5/25 48
Motivational Mixer 7/13 108
Homeownership 8/24 53
Housekeeping Class 9/8 28
HCVP Seminar 9/21 27
FSS Goals Updates  10/4 34
Credit Repair e-Bus 10/19 128
Effective Parenting 11/3 29
Budgeting 11/16 43