The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded more than $400,000 in grants to help Hawaii residents receiving housing assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program to gain access to education, job training and employment.
The $57-million HUD funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Family Self-Sufficiency Program will help public housing authorities across the country to hire or retain more than one thousand service coordinators who will work directly with families to connect them to the supportive services that meet their individual needs and to become gainfully employed.
"This is a modest investment that can make a world of difference for families looking to find their path to self-sufficiency," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "As America’s economy continues to recover, it’s critical that we work to make sure every American has the skills and resources they need to successfully compete for jobs in the 21st Century."
The Hawaii County Housing Agency will get $65,090; the City & County of Honolulu will receive $156,331; the County of Maui will get $29,495; the County of Kauai and the Kauai County Housing Agency will get $130,762; and the Hawaii Public Housing Authority will receive $61,970.
The service coordinators retained or hired through these programs work directly with residents to connect them with local organizations that provide education and job training and placement opportunities; as well as childcare, counseling, transportation and computer and financial literacy services available in their community.
This program encourages innovative strategies that link ousing Choice Voucher assistance with other resources to enable participating families to find employment; increase earned income; reduce or eliminate the need for rental and/or welfare assistance; and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency.
Participants sign a 5-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and no longer receive welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. As the family’s income rises, a portion of that increased income is deposited in an interest-bearing escrow account.
If the family successfully completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including paying educational expenses, starting a business or paying debts.