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The Family Self Sufficiency program (FSS) is an innovative and comprehensive three-year financial literacy and asset building program for low income families receiving housing subsidy in the Capital Region.
Through financial literacy skill building, goal setting and action planning, families are able to strengthen their capacity to provide a more stable and healthy way of life for themselves and their children. With the help of bi-weekly meetings with their Family Advisor, participants set life and financial goals to improve budgeting, create savings, reduce debt, increase employability or education, improve health and wellness, and strengthen positive relationships with their children and others.
Action plans are developed to help participants track their progress and adjust as needed. Participants benefit from one-on-one coaching as well as group workshops on a range of financial topics such as understanding credit (good debt vs. bad debt), exploring habits and attitudes around money, and self-identified topics such as small business start-up.
FSS also offers two savings opportunities for participants: Individual Development Accounts (IDA) & Escrow.
Individual Development Accounts (IDA) is a matched savings program. Participants pay into a savings account on a monthly basis (with preset minimum and maximum amounts) for a designated period of time and those savings are matched at a rate of 2.5x upon successful completion of the program. Matched savings dollars can be applied to the goals that each participant sets during the program. The learned practice of saving money over a long period of time breaks embedded spending habits and creates new and more positive relationships with money.
Escrow may be available to those participants who are receiving housing subsidy whose household income has increased (with the exception of those whose rents are paid by income assistance). As a participant’s rent increases due to an increase in household income, so does their rent. The difference between the new rent and the original rent is set aside each month (with preset maximums). Escrow savings can be accessed once a participant has successfully completed the program.
To be eligible for the Family Self-Sufficiency program, you must:
- Reside in subsidized housing or receive rent subsidy from the BC Housing Rental Assistance Program
- Live on low income
- Live with at least one dependent child
The Family Self-Sufficiency program supports families as they:
- Increase financial capacity
- Build financial knowledge
- Increase employability
- Increase self-reliance
- Develop links to their communities
The Family Self Sufficiency program offers:
- Opportunities to build savings
- Family Advisor to work with each participant family
- Goals and action plans co-developed by participants and advisors
- Educational and community building meetings
- Financial exploration and budgeting sessions
- Community input through an Advisory Committee
- Networking and community connections
Participants’ commitment includes:
- Motivation to transform your hopes and dreams into a sustainable reality
- Participation for duration of program (up to three years)
- Readiness to work with a Family Advisor
- Willingness to explore financial issues and create monthly budgets
- Willingness to reduce debt
- Participation in regular meetings and workshops
To hear first-hand accounts of how the FSS program has impacted people’s lives, please read through the Journeys booklets below.