2. Outreach and Goal-Setting
3. Case Management / Coaching
4. Increasing Earnings
5. Building Financial Capability
6. FSS Infrastructure
2. Outreach and Goal-Setting
The voluntary nature of the FSS program makes proactive marketing to potential participants essential. Many FSS programs have found recruitment to be a challenge, as residents are wary about a new program and may have had negative experiences with prior programs. An effective marketing strategy can help to overcome this challenge.
Your FSS Action Plan must describe the policies and procedures for admitting new participants to the program, as well as the outreach activities you plan to use to recruit participants.
This module covers best practices for marketing your FSS program, as well as information on potential participants who may be the focus of your outreach activities.
Learn more about the Action Plan at 24 CFR §984.201.
FSS program participants must be current public housing, HUD-assisted multifamily housing or Housing Choice Voucher program participants who are interested in increasing their earnings to make progress toward self-sufficiency. Residents of housing units assisted with project-based vouchers are eligible as participants in the Housing Choice Voucher program.
In recruiting participants for FSS, it is important not to discriminate against any group. This means including, among other potential participants:
When enrolling new participants in the program, PHAs may give a selection preference for up to 50 percent of their FSS slots to families with a member already enrolled in, or currently on the waiting list for, an FSS-related service program.
This selection preference includes FSS families that are porting in, as they would already be participating in the FSS program and thus meet the standard. (For more information on FSS families that are porting in, see the Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook, page 23-5)
Those not selected via this preference must be selected using an objective process such as a lottery or on a first-come, first-served basis.
Program rules also allow PHAs and owners to use a family’s “interest, and motivation to participate in the FSS program” as a selection factor in determining which families to admit into the FSS program. (24 CFR §984.203)
However, FSS programs may not adopt screening requirements related to:
For more on selection of FSS participants, see 24 CFR §984.203.
Screening for motivation may increase the likelihood that FSS program enrollees will be successful participants.
There are several ways to screen for motivation, including requiring the head of household to:
All required screening activities must be accessible to all participants, without regard to educational level, disability status, or English fluency.
FSS © 2017 | U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
If there are more families interested in the FSS program than you can reasonably support, you may choose to establish a waiting list.
The following may be useful policies to consider when establishing a waiting list:
Outreach to potential participants in the FSS program can and should take place at multiple points in time and through a variety of approaches. Some of the outreach and recruitment approaches used by FSS programs include (click the arrows to expand the content):
Providing information at initial occupancy
An FSS coordinator, current participant or graduate can be given the opportunity to speak about the FSS program at Housing Choice Voucher briefings and during orientation to living in public housing. Including information about FSS early on can help to establish the program as a core component of the PHA’s or owner's housing program.
Providing information at annual reexamination meetings
The discussion of residents’ income and monthly rent is a natural segue to discuss the benefits of the FSS program in terms of building escrow. Residents who receive cash welfare assistance or expect to have rent increases in the coming year are especially good candidates for the FSS program.
Introducing FSS at other meetings and events
Community meetings, social events, formal and informal resident gatherings – all are great opportunities to introduce the FSS program and FSS coordinators. Property management staff and the FSS coordinator can explain the program and answer residents’ questions directly. Coordinators may also consider going door-to-door and speaking directly to potential participants.
Engaging peer representatives
Current program participants and successful graduates may be your most effective marketing tool. Graduates can inspire and encourage other families to join the FSS program, and success stories can be distributed widely through newsletters, on PHA or owner websites, and in the local press. Current or graduated FSS participants can speak at meetings, be listed as a resource on promotional materials, or be matched one-on-one with potential enrollees.
At minimum, FSS programs should have printed brochures with basic information about the program and how to apply, including phone numbers and emails for points of contact and addresses of FSS program websites.
Promotional materials can be included in new residents’ welcome packets, sent with reexamination packages, or distributed in mass mailings (or email blasts), as well as displayed in residence lobbies, on bulletin boards, and in other public spaces of the PHA, government agencies, and nonprofit service providers. Copies should also be made available to all housing specialists and other staff who work directly with residents.
Social media can also help to extend the reach of marketing efforts. Some FSS programs maintain their own Facebook page while others have created Twitter accounts—both can be effective channels to share program information and announcements, recognize graduates, and link to other resources.
FSS practitioners share their marketing and recruitment strategies in this video clip.
The following are suggested topics for informational materials (click the arrows to expand the content):
A description of the FSS program A description of the FSS program, noting that it is a voluntary program designed to last five years, but that residents can complete their goals and graduate from the program sooner.A description of the process through which participants
advance through the FSS program A description of the process through which participants advance through the FSS program including participant assessments, the development of Individual Training and Services Plans, the pursuit of suitable employment, etc.A list of benefits of enrollment in the FSS program A list of benefits of enrollment in the FSS program, including automatic savings through an escrow account and the support, guidance and resource linkages provided by an FSS coordinator.Sample escrow calculations Sample escrow calculations that highlight how growth in earnings leads to substantial escrowed savings.A list of services and supports A list of services and supports that the FSS program can help participants access.Sample profiles of successful FSS program graduates Sample profiles of successful FSS program graduates to illustrate in an accessible story form the potential of the program to help families make progress toward economic security. All profiles should be with the explicit permission of the individual and should only include their first names or initials or use a pseudonym.
Some PHAs and owners have also chosen to rename their FSS programs to avoid confusion among potential participants about how the program works or better reflect their local program focus.
In these videos FSS practitioners describe why they changed their local program names and how they re-branded the program to better communicate its goals.
Examples of FSS Promotional Materials
Below are links to examples of FSS promotional materials from various FSS program providers.
The following are examples of promotional materials utilized by FSS programs:
The sample resources provided on this page are for information purposes only. Their inclusion in this training does not imply the endorsement of HUD or any other organization.
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