Charlotte Mattox presents Amanda Smith with a $3,369.15 check Thursday. Smith received the check for successfully completing the FSS program. She said she will use the money to purchase Christmas presents for her children and pay off debt. | Laura Pemberton

Archived Story

On her own

Published 12:38pm Friday, December 7, 2012

Amanda Smith has completed the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, and she has the $3,369.15 check to prove it.

“The FSS program 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,” said Charlotte Mattox, housing choice voucher coordinator for Family Self Sufficiency.

Mattox said once a participant in the FSS program’s income increases, their rent increases, and the amount of the increase is placed in an interest earning savings account. Once a participant has successfully completed the FSS contract, they are given the contents of the escrow account.

Mattox said Smith completed her personal goals of securing full-time employment, creating a budget, repairing her credit by paying down her student loan debt, securing reliable childcare and maintaining reliable transportation in only a year, which is very rare.

“Amanda was one of my first participants,” Mattox said. “So I’m like a proud mom.”

Smith, a 25-year-old mother of two, said she plans to the use the money to pay down her student loan debt so she can return to college and to purchase bikes for Christmas for her two children: Madison, 4, and Reese, 2.

“I plan to pay the debt I owe on my student loans and return to college at the beginning of next year in the ultrasound technician field,” Smith said. “I really want to go back to school and make something of myself. I really just want to ensure my future is better than my past.”

Smith is now working at Mother Goose Child Development Center in the infant room and is purchasing her own home. She said one of the things she is most looking forward to is having three bedrooms.

“They’ve never had their own bedrooms,” Smith said. “Now they’ll have their own rooms.”

Jessica Sanford, another coordinator for the program, said Smith is a great example for the program.

“Any time we have someone go from public housing to owning their own place that’s a huge success,” Sanford said. “Amanda is what this program is about. It’s to help you get on your feet and get on your own.”

The FSS program provides quarterly workshops to help participants reach their goals. Mattox said previous topics have included: how to dress for success, how to manage checking and savings accounts, credit counseling and more.

Smith said the program has taught her to look at her finances differently, and she is extremely grateful.

“This program is about making yourself a better person and achieving goals in life for a better future for yourself and your children,” Smith said. “I encourage anyone in public housing or Section 8 housing to sign up for FSS, and help yourself be self sufficient and more independent.”

To learn more about the FSS program or to volunteer to speak at a workshop, contact the Alexander City Housing Authority at 256-329-2201.