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Helping renters build assets and move out of poverty by scaling HUD’s best kept secret

BROOKINGS THE AVENUE: As families living in some types of HUD-assisted housing earn more money, their housing subsidy decreases meaning, essentially, that their rent goes up. This dynamic makes it difficult for families to build savings and arguably discourages them from increasing their earnings. HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program provides an incentive for residents to earn more: the portion of the housing subsidy that would typically by withheld and offset by new earnings is instead set aside as savings for the family.  

Compass Working Capital’s Markita Morris-Louis wrote about the impact of the Family Self-Sufficiency and Rent to Save programs for Brookings, and cited Abt’s evaluation of a pilot opt-out savings program implemented by Compass and the Cambridge Housing Authority. “Abt Global found that participants earned more and received less public assistance than comparable households not enrolled in FSS,” writes Morris-Louis. “On average, participants graduate with over $8,000 in savings.”

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