Since 1940, the Conway Housing Authority (CHA) has provided decent, safe, and sanitary housing for elderly, disabled and very low-income families and offering programs to participants that assist them in becoming self-sufficient.

Since 1995, the Conway Housing Authority has administered a program called Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS). It is celebrating a success story in C.R., who has requested anonymity.

In working closely with the FSS Coordinator and housing staff, C.R. set goals to become free of housing assistance within a five-year period. While in the FSS program, when her rent increased due to an increase in employment income, the Conway Housing Authority set a portion of that increase in an escrow account on her behalf. Her goal is to become a homeowner. The two restrictions most people have is their credit score and their ability to make a down payment.

C.R. worked with the FSS Coordinator on setting goals to improve her credit, was referred to classes designed to help improve credit.

Now, just two short years later, C.R. has completed her FSS contract and goals and has received a check for more than $3,800.00 to help with her down payment.

In a letter of appreciation to the Conway Housing Authority FSS staff, she wrote: "When I first started this program, I really didn’t know my plans for owning a new home. I just knew I wanted to own one. So I decided to meet with Lorna Simmons and her staff for advice. They told me about the Family Self-Sufficiency Program. After meeting with the FSS team, I was very excited about all the information they gave me. I attended their meetings, went to their workshops. I even had my own personal coach that helped me believe in myself. All that great help and advice helped me believe in my dreams of owning my own home, getting my education and finding a job that I really love! Because of this program, I know dreams really do come true. I know the sky is the limit. Thanks, so much!"

C.R. plans to put her money in a CD or money market account until she has found the home she is searching.

With the completion of her contract, the Conway Housing Authority has had 71 families graduate from the program since 1995, with 62 participants receiving checks totaling $277,696.18. Twenty-three participants have bought homes, three have started their own business and two have transferred out of state for higher-paying jobs.

The FSS Program does not designate how the money is to be spent by the participant. The main goal of the program is to better the lives of the participants and encourage self-sufficiency from all government programs.

The Family Self-Sufficiency Program is only available to those participants currently receiving assistance through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The waiting list for that program is closed at this time.