Thursday, October 6, 2022
Oct. 6, 2022

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Bridgeview celebrates graduates of Family Self-Sufficiency Program

The Columbian
Published:

VANCOUVER HEIGHTS — On Aug. 23, Bridgeview Resource Center held a small ceremony during which graduates of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program received big checks. The checks represent money earned by participating in the program aimed at building independence and financial literacy.

It was the first time in years Bridgeview held an in-person graduation due to COVID-19. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, participants have been making progress toward their professional and financial goals.

The Family Self-Sufficiency Program is open to households using Housing Choice Vouchers, which reduce rent costs for those who cannot afford market-rate rents. An interest-bearing escrow account is established in their name and grows through earned income and accomplishing milestones throughout the program. Upon completion, graduates can use their checks however they see fit; typically, the money goes toward schooling costs, debt reduction, purchasing a vehicle or even putting a down payment on a home. One recent graduate earned $40,000 in escrow.

All 19 of the 2021 and 2022 graduates are employed full time. They no longer use rental subsidies or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a government program providing cash assistance to low-income families. Twelve graduates head single-parent households.

About 100 households participate in the program each year. The current average annual income is about $30,000. Seventy percent of those working their way through the program are working at least part time.

The Family Self-Sufficiency Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Bridgeview puts on the program in partnership with the Vancouver Housing Authority.

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