Graduates completed five-year program working with MBHP staff to save total of $107,000

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley

BOSTON—On March 20, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley joined with Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership to celebrate the accomplishments of 12 dedicated individuals for their completion of MBHP’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program.

“I’m honored to be a part of this celebration,” said Councilor Pressley. “I am here to celebrate you.”

FSS is a federal program designed to help those receiving certain forms of assistance to increase their incomes and become self-sufficient. MBHP’s program focuses specifically on recipients of Section 8 vouchers. Participants are enrolled in escrow savings account to automatically save as their income increases. For this year’s graduates, the total savings in these accounts came to $107,000, with an average distribution of $9,000 per participant. Those who complete the program can use these savings to further pursue their life goals, such as continuing their education or putting it toward the purchase of a home.

Throughout the five-year program, FSS participants work with an MBHP staff member to set goals and formulate plans for achieving those goals. This year’s group made impressive strides over the course of the program. Two graduates completed degrees. One increased her credit score by more than 100 points.

Councilor Pressley applauded the graduates’ hard work. “You are more than dreamers,” she said. “In fact, you are visionaries, because you had a plan, and you worked hard to see that plan manifest and actualized.”

Councilor Pressley also thanked the graduates for being partners in building a healthy community. “Healthy communities don’t happen by accident, we have to be very intentional about how we build a healthy community.” Noting the importance of having a safe, affordable place to live, she said, “I don’t just care about people having shelter,” she said. “Everyone deserves to have a home.”

Rep. Holmes with FSS graduate Nickisha GalesThe theme of community continued with FSS graduate Nickisha Gales who spoke during the evening. Gales recently completed the coursework and testing necessary to become a licensed Emergency Medical Technician.

“Completing this course was a huge accomplishment for me,” she said. “I did it. It was a struggle, but I made it.” Noting that it was a challenge to work a full-time job, complete her coursework and be a single mother to her two boys, Gales said it may not have been possible without the help and encouragement of her FSS advisor and her family.

Chris Norris, executive director of MBHP, echoed this sentiment. Recognizing the family members of the graduates, he said, “The family plays a huge role in making this happen.”

Noting all their accomplishments, Norris commended the graduates. “You deserve to celebrate your success,” he said. “That’s what tonight is all about. I am happy and honored to share it with you.”

Also in attendance was Representative Russell Holmes. “FSS is such a strong program,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be here and see firsthand how it allows people to lift themselves up to become self-sufficient.”

Gales summed up the FSS experience perfectly. In congratulating her fellow graduates, she said, “This is just the beginning of better things to come. Never give up.”