14 Mar A Five-Year Commitment That Lasts a Lifetime
By David Kelley, Family Self-Sufficiency Manager at Metro Housing|Boston
For many, graduations recall a transition from one stage of a young life to another. Those graduations typically involve teenagers completing high school or young adults embarking on a career with a professional certificate or college degree.
However, the graduation for 52 graduates of Metro Housing|Boston’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program marks a completely different kind of transition.
FSS is designed to help families achieve increased economic self-sufficiency over a five-year period. And as I proudly watched the 2017 graduates of FSS receive their Certificates of Graduation late last month, I was moved to think about the tremendous commitment and sacrifice they made to reach this point in their lives, marking a transition not just for them but for their entire families.
Lori Liggins was one of those graduates. Lori began FSS for the second time in 2012. Lori’s early years were tough. She became a single mother at age 17 and after an abusive relationship, spent time in a shelter.
But Lori’s commitment to changing her life never wavered. I shared her pride as she made her comments as graduation speaker. Lori spoke of the importance of the “no-judgement” approach of her FSS Advisors. They supported her as she worked diligently to meet her goals.
Goal-setting is a vital part of FSS. All participants develop service plans that outline short-term and long-term goals to help keep them motivated as they work towards their goals. For Lori, improving her credit score and purchasing a car were her primary goals. Her new car provides her greater flexibility and potential earning power in her job as a home care aide.
One of the most striking elements of FSS is the opportunity for participants to save up to $25,000. As a participant’s earnings increase, the difference between their starting and increased income is placed in an escrow savings account on behalf of the participant. When the participant successfully completes the program, he or she receives those funds which can then be used for homeownership or higher education. While many participants often return their Section 8 voucher at the conclusion of the five years, graduates are not required to and often continue with FSS to further increase their economic stability.
A major contributing factor to the FSS’s success is its partnership with Compass Working Capital. Compass staff conducts all of the FSS enrollments for participants interested in joining, and enhance the model with financial education workshops and credit assistance for participants to work on financial stability.
As Lori concluded her remarks to her fellow graduates as she beamed with pride, I was reminded of a favorite quote of mine from an unknown author—“Commitment is what transforms the promise into reality. It is making the time when there is none. Commitment is the stuff character is made of.”
For information on FSS, please visit our website at http://bit.ly/FSSCommitment