As part of our mission, Compass is committed to shaping national practice and policy to promote financial security and economic mobility for families with low incomes.
Recently that work took a big step forward, with the passage of the federal Family Self-Sufficiency Act. This legislation will make several important changes to the Family Self-Sufficiency program, which is the federal government's largest asset-building program for families with low incomes, reaching more than 75,000 families each year in communities across the country.
Compass has been working for over a year with our policy partners and members of Congress to advance this legislation. Several aspects of the bill were surfaced from our direct work on the ground with families in our local FSS programs and from partners in our National FSS Network. I also testified before Congress on this legislation last fall.
It is very encouraging for us to see Congress take action to improve the program, which points to continued strong bipartisan support for FSS. For those of you familiar with how the FSS program works, changes made in the legislation that are particularly important to our work include:
- a change to an existing rule that prevents families who earn more than 50% of the area median income from building escrow savings in FSS (now increased to 80%)
- permanent authorization for private owners to offer the FSS program
- the creation of an innovation fund at HUD to support promising new approaches to operating the FSS program
- a requirement that HUD implement a performance-based system for awarding FSS grants
We are thrilled with this outcome. It is a major milestone in our push to expand the scope and impact of the FSS program on a national scale. We look forward to working with our partners to help shape HUD's implementation of the bill's provisions over the course of the next year.