BUILDING MORE THAN JUST AFFORDABLE HOUSING:
BHA RESIDENT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF PROGRAM DESIGNED TO MAKE FAMILIES SELF SUFFICIENT
BHA staff celebrated on Friday, July 31st, as Heather Bobb, a 32-year-old single mother of three, was told she was finally graduating from the Beaumont Housing Authority’s Family Self Sufficiency Program, five years after joining. Through her tears, Bobb praised the program, stating “This has helped my family so, so much.”
When she enrolled in the FSS program in 2013, Bobb signed a Contract of Participation affirming that she would work with FSS caseworkers to obtain employment and move off welfare assistance. At the time, Bobb was recently unemployed after being laid off, and was looking for assistance in furthering her career.
“The FSS program make me start developing a game plan to work towards small goals,” Bobb said.
During her participation in the program, she started a job working for Girls Haven and she returned to school and earned her Real Estate certification from Champions Real Estate. She is currently preparing to take the exam to earn her license.
As part of her participation in the program, BHA established an escrow account. As Bobb’s income rose, her portion of her rental payments also increased. A portion of that increased rent was deposited into the escrow account. When she successfully completed her contract, she was able to keep the funds that had accrued in her escrow account. Those funds that can be used for any purpose, including paying educational expenses, starting a business or purchasing a home.
“I plan to save the majority of my funds to put a down payment on my dream home,” Bobb said. “I want my kids to have a house with a yard that they can play in.”
Through the FSS program, service coordinators work directly with residents in the Public Housing and Section 8 programs to connect them with a comprehensive array of services that help the family move towards self sufficiency. These services include job training and education, job search and placement, life skills training, youth enrichment and homeownership and asset building assistance.
Since the program’s inception in 1998, 103 families have successfully graduated. These graduates have earned over $448,463.81 in escrow savings, an average of $4,354 per family. BHA currently has 90 families participating in the program which is networked to over 50 local social and supportive service partners.
“FSS has a tremendous impact not just on the families in our programs,” Executive Director Robert L. Reyna said. “It also infuses the City of Beaumont with newly educated and trained job seekers, and helps families move out of federally assisted housing programs into unassisted homeownership”.