Nine Family Self Sufficiency Participants Receive Hard Earned Graduation Certificates

Program to Support Section 8 Recipients Advance in Career and Financially

WEST HARTFORD. Nine residents of West Hartford received graduation certificates to mark their completion with the West Hartford Housing Authority’s Family-Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program. The graduation ceremony took place at 4:30PM on Wednesday, August 21 in the Community Room of the Alfred E. Plant apartments.

The celebration was for graduates Brenda Hall, Fowsia Hassan, Caroline Hazel, Lydia Lopez, Onelyn Lopez, Diana Molina, Betzaida Perez, Nekole Ramos, and Wanda Valdes. Those in attendance included Board of Commissioner members Robert Kantor – Chairperson, Diana Macpherson – Treasurer, and Katy Shafer. Support also came from Denise Hall, Minority Leader of the West Hartford Town Council, and members of the FSS Program Coordinating Committee, which includes nonprofits, government, and local businesses.

The program is a voluntary option for individuals who receive Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance, and it helps by building job skills and improved credit, thereby leaving all graduates closer to homeownership. In addition, the FSS program provides referrals for childcare, transportation, and employment counseling. FSS, a Department of Housing and Urban Development program, can assist low-income families gain employment that leads to economic independence. The WHHA has operated the FSS program since 2008.

Many of the nine FSS graduates benefitted from education offered privately and through workshops at the Hillcrest Area Neighborhood Outreach Center (HANOC), a collaboration between the West Hartford Housing Authority (WHHA) and the Town of West Hartford. In addition to the additional education the FSS graduates now have, FSS also helped by connecting participants to local educators at both the basic education and college level.

Wanda Valdes from West Hartford, one of the graduates, is a Customer Service Department Head with Stop & Shop. The program has allowed her to improve her skills as a prospective small business owner and she is actively pursuing Homeownership. During the graduation ceremony, Wanda shared: “When I signed the Contract, I doubted the program was able to help me or that I would finish in five years. I was wrong. The FSS Program showed me the correct path to reach my goals.” Only three years after joining the program, Wanda established a savings plan, received credit counseling, and earned a promotion, which meant she could afford rent without Section 8 assistance.

The WHHA owns and manages two apartment facilities with a total of 177 apartments for the elderly and disabled residents of West Hartford, Alfred E. Plant and Elm Grove. The WHHA is allocated nearly 700 Housing Choice Vouchers within the Town of West Hartford. A core mission for the agency is to manage quality housing and provide services that help residents to maintain and increase their independence.

Press contact: 
Sophie Starchman
(860) 953-0002