Housing group gets federal grant

Published 11:01 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority has received a $51,736 federal grant to help provide job training to low-income residents, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Monday.

Funded through HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Family Self-Sufficiency program, the grants allow public housing agencies to work with welfare agencies, schools, businesses and other local partners to develop comprehensive programs to help participants develop the skills and experience to find jobs that pay a living wage.

Seventeen Virginia localities received a total of $2.1 million in HUD grants, according to an agency press release.

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“This program has proven its effectiveness in helping families develop the skills that lead to stable employment,” HUD Secretary Steve Preston said. “Getting a decent job and increasing a person’s potential for higher-paying employment is the first step to becoming economically independent.”

Suffolk’s housing authority will use the money to link people in the public housing program to local organizations that provide job training, childcare, counseling, transportation and job placement, the release stated. The agency also could hire homeownership counselors.

Participants in the Family Self Sufficiency program must sign a contract requiring the head of the household to get a job and stipulating that the family will no longer receive welfare assistance after five years.

As the family’s income rises, a portion of the increase is deposited into an interest-bearing escrow account that the family can use for any purpose — including a down payment on a home, paying educational expenses, starting a business or paying off debts — at the end of the five-year term.