Bridgeview Resource Center, a Vancouver Housing Authority nonprofit entity, will receive $264,314 to continue helping low-income families become financially independent.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Jan. 28 it had issued $109 million to more than 600 public housing agencies for the Family Self-Sufficiency program. The program aids families in a Housing Choice Voucher program, living in public housing and living in HUD-assisted multifamily developments. The purpose is to help these families reach financial security and independence.
The Family Self-Sufficiency program aids families with child care, education, job training, financial services, and many other services. With the funding, Vancouver’s program will be used to sustain the three caseworkers and expenses, along with staff orchestrating the program.
Through case management, families create a goal plan for an area they hope to strengthen.
“For some folks, this really is the first time that they’ve been asked, ‘What are your goals?’ Because they’ve set this time frame so often, and living paycheck to paycheck, so longer term goals is just a luxury that they’ve never been afforded,” said Emily Dixon, Family Self-Sufficiency manager for Bridgeview.
Dixon said typically, Vancouver families focus on employment, education, home ownership, or mental, physical and emotional well-being.
“For many of our families who participate in our Family Self-Sufficiency program, it often means home ownership, which for our lower income families — that’s life changing and a pathway out of intergenerational poverty,” said Angie Sytsma, executive director of Bridgeview Resource Center.
In 2022, 109 families were involved in Vancouver’s Family Self-Sufficiency program, which usually averages between 125 and 150 families. Nationwide, nearly 6,000 families take part in the program.
The national program was greatly expanded in 2022 to meet the demand of families wanting to join due to COVID-19 related challenges. New alterations removed potential barriers to the program by allowing any adult household member to apply — not just the head of household — and eliminating a cap on savings for higher earners.
“I think the best part of this program for me is just seeing individuals come in where they are almost limiting themselves, because they can’t see beyond tomorrow and watching them just grow and add tools into their toolbox,” Dixon said.
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