Phyllis Smith and Latavion Daniels hold the checks they were awarded for completing the Alexander City Housing Authority’s Family Self-sufficiency program. | Jessica Hargett

Archived Story

Two awarded for self-sufficiency program

Published 2:55pm Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Alexander City Housing Authority awarded two women Tuesday for graduating out of its Family Self-sufficiency program.

Latavion Daniels and Phyllis Smith received escrow checks and a certificate of completion from the five-year program.

FSS is available to families who receive assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Public Housing (PH) is designed to encourage people who are unemployed and on welfare to be employed full-time, to be  free of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and to set personal goals to better themselves so they can become self-sufficient.

“These two ladies are the first two to have gone through the full five years, and they have met their goals,” said Patsy Prater, service coordinator. “They’ve worked for five years to reach these goals. They’ve gone to school. They’ve graduated from school. They’ve gone to workshops. They’ve kept a budget. They’ve done an array of things that are required within the program, and they have completed these successfully.”

Prater said the program began in Tallapoosa County in 1997, which is seven years after HUD established it in 1990 by section 554 of the National Affordable Housing Act.

The program requires participants to sign a contract, which specifies the rights and responsibilities of both the participant and the housing authority.

Family members must fulfill all requirements of the contract in order to obtain full benefits which include that the family comply with the lease, that all family members become independent of welfare, and that the head of the family seek and maintain suitable employment.

Participants forfeit benefits of the program if they do not comply with the contract. Benefits include an FSS escrow account, supportive services,  public housing rental assistance and housing choice voucher assistance.

Both Daniels and Smith received escrow checks for completing the program.

Daniels received $3,265.83 and Smith received $2,256.90.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states that participants receive an escrow account which is an interest bearing account established by the housing authority for each participating family.

“An escrow credit, based on increases in earned income of the family, is credited to this account by the (housing authority) during the term of the FSS contract. The (housing authority) may make a portion of this escrow account available to the family during the term of the contract to enable the family to complete an interim goal such as education.

“If the family completes the contract and no member of the family is receiving cash welfare assistance, the amount of the FSS account is paid to the head of the family. If the PHA terminates the FSS contract, or if the family fails to complete the contract before its expiration, the family’s FSS escrow funds are forfeited.”

ACHA Director John Nolan congratulated Daniels and Smith on their achievement and said he hopes it will lead to something down the road that’s even better for them and their families.

Daniels who is now employed full time at Head Start Hair Care in Sylacauga said she is going to use her escrow check for her family.

“I found some property for sale, and I plan on paying down on it so I can get my own place so I can leave something for my children in case something happens to me,” Daniels said. “I’m glad I joined the program because in the long run it made me be able to provide a place for me and my children.”

Smith is currently employed full time at Auburn University Conference Center and Hotel and wants to use her escrow check to do some home improvements, fix her car and also get some new school clothes for her children for the upcoming school year.

“I’m glad I went through the program,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time coming for me. I learned how to manage my money and it pushed me toward a job.”

Both Daniel and Smith said they would recommend the program to anyone who can participate.

“It was really easy, and I would recommend it for anybody to join this program,” Daniels said. “It will help them get on their feet a lot, and it will teach them how to manage their money. Pay bills first. Have fun last.”

The FSS Coordinators, Jessica Sanford and Charlotte Mattox are looking for willing participants who are interested in joining the program.  If you live in Alexander City Public Housing (PH) or are in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program and are interested in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program please contact Jessica Sanford, ( PH FSS Coordinator) or Charlotte Mattox (HCV FSS Coordinator) at the Alexander City Housing Authority, 2110 County Road, Alexander City, AL  35010, 256-329-2201.