Kansas City Housing Authority Staff

One Man’s Journey from Public Housing to a Home of His Own HAKC’s Family Self Sufficiency Program

Photo Credit: The Housing Authority of Kansas City, Missouri Website

Today, “George” is just another homeowner. He goes to work so he can pay his mortgage and student loans. He volunteers to give back to his community. He probably grumbles about mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. However, this was not always the case. Nine years ago, George was living in poverty in an apartment paid for with a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV, formerly Section 8). What was the catalyst for this change? The Housing Authority of Kansas City’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program.

Housed at 299 Paseo, the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a voluntary, 5-year program for motivated residents of HAKC’s Low Income Public Housing and HCV programs. Working with a case manager, residents discover their strengths, achieve self-identified goals, and work to improve their lives. As part of the program, the Housing Authority places a portion of their increased rent into an escrow account. Upon completion of their goals and graduation from the program, the Housing Authority presents the graduate with their escrow at a graduation ceremony.

George demonstrates just how well this program can work for a motivated resident. George had two big dreams: earn a college degree and own his own home. Upon enrolling in FSS, George met numerous times with his case manager to create an Individualized Training and Services Plan (ITSP). The ITSP is unique to each client and serves the client as a “roadmap” to achieve their goals with the skills they have developed.

Since George would need financial assistance for his education and purchase of a home, George needed financial education. George’s Case Manager suggested that his first goal could be to enroll in Money Smart classes. The FSS program partners with financial institutions in the community to provide financial literacy for program participants. Additionally, George enrolled in Life Skills classes at 299 Paseo provided by the Urban League.

With Life Skills and Money Smart Classes completed, George secured reasonable student loans and enrolled in the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Upon graduation with a degree in Communications (his second goal), George put his networking skills to work and found a position at the Urban League with his former Life Skills teachers. With his higher income, George began earning escrow through the FSS Program. One final goal remained: secure a mortgage from a lender.

Through his hard work and knowledge gained in Money Smart, George cleaned up his credit, and was able to qualify for a home loan. Since George achieved his final goal and secured a mortgage loan from a qualified lender, George graduated the FSS program. His hard work and perseverance throughout his time in the FSS Program had paid off. George’s accumulated FSS escrow provided the down payment for his new home!

Today, George is a proud homeowner. He tells his story to new FSS participants in Money Smart and Life Skills classes. George’s journey, while extraordinary, is not unique in FSS.

HAKC realizes that affordable housing is more than just providing a unit to someone; it is providing them with an opportunity. HAKC’s FSS participants use that opportunity to attain self-sufficiency on their own terms. FSS Case Managers help each participant realize their strengths, support participants as they overcome challenges to reach their goals and assist each FSS participant to improve their lives. FSS graduates have gone on to higher education, start their own businesses, and become pillars for their family and community. HAKC views FSS and stories like George’s as examples of what can happen when safe and affordable housing meets opportunity. Our participants can complete their goals and live their dreams.

For more information contact:

Steven Tucker

Assistant Director-Resident Services

Housing Authority of Kansas City

816 777 2924