Housing and Community Development provides a path to self sufficiency

When single mother Terisha Taylor lost her job with Fed-Ex several years ago, things got really tough. She couldn’t find another job that supported her family and paid the rent. Homelessness loomed.

But these days, Taylor’s fully employed as a Wal-Mart supervisor, and she’s studying for the LSAT with plans to go to law school.

She credits County staff and programs with helping her regain her financial independence.

“Wow, I’m not on any kind of (government assistance) program now,” Taylor recently marveled.

The first step was Section 8, or federal rental assistance for very low income families, which helped Taylor and her family avoid the streets. The County’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), helps low-income families find safe, decent and affordable housing, thus creating a stable housing platform and a path to self sufficiency.

Stable housing allowed Taylor to earn a college degree, work part-time and provide her family the basics. But she was still just scraping by.

The County’s Family Self Sufficiency program finally helped change that. The voluntary program requires participants to meet with HCD staff and develop a step-by-step plan for becoming financially independent, once and for all. Participants commit to the plan in a signed contract.

“Overall, it forced me to make goals,” Taylor said.

The program also connects participants with relevant training. Taylor took a consumer credit and financial planning class.

Sticking to her goals, Taylor found a job as a supervisor at Wal-Mart and worked her way up from managing 20 people to managing 100. In a couple years, she earned enough to move out of the “very-low-income” bracket and become truly self-sufficient.

The program ultimately saves the public money, said Kelly Duffek, the Chief of Rental Assistance with HCD, because it helps people find and stay on a path to self-sufficiency.

“Not only does this program help families, but it benefits the taxpayers by reducing the number of people dependent on subsidies,” she said.