The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is releasing over $49 million to public housing agencies in 49 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico to increase job training for low-income residents.

The funding, announced Tuesday by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, is part of the department's Housing Choice Voucher Family Self Sufficiency Program (HCV/FSS), originally established in 1990.  Families participating in the Housing Choice Voucher portion of the program may voluntarily participate in the Family Self Sufficiency Program.  

According to HUD, the grants allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to work with welfare agencies, schools, businesses, and other local partners to develop a comprehensive program designed to help participating individuals develop the skills and experience necessary to obtain jobs that pay a living wage.

The PHAs can use the funds for additional staff to link up adults enrolled in the program with local organizations in order to receive appropriate job training, childcare, counseling, transportation, and ultimately job placement.  The PHAs can also use the funds to provide families with household skills training and homeownership counseling.

Participants in the program sign a contract with the PSA pledging that the head of the household will get a job and that no family member will be receiving welfare assistance at the end of five years. Once the family member is employed and the family income increases, the PSA establishes an interest-bearing escrow account for the employee and credits money representing a portion of that increase to the account.  Once the family completes its FSS contract, which also requires that the family comply with the lease, and specifies all goals and services for the family, the escrowed funds are released to the participant and can be used as a down payment on a home, to start a business, or for debt repayment, educational expenses, or other purposes.  If the family fails to fulfill its contractual obligations, the escrow account is forfeited.

The $49 million awarded to states ranges in amounts from $34,000 to Wyoming to $6.3 million granted to California.  Delaware and the District of Columbia do not appear on the list of grant recipients.

Secretary Donovan said of the awards, "In today's economy, this program is needed more than ever to help families obtain the skills that lead to jobs. On the heels of President Obama signing the jobs bill that will boost job creation, I'm pleased HUD is providing this funding to local housing authorities that will keep caseworkers on the job to assist families in HUD's voucher program find employment."