It’s an unspoken goal of Economic Security Corporation and all community action agencies to change clients into ‘former’ clients. Families struggling to make ends meet come to ESC seeking help to become self- sufficient and able to stand on their own. Their needs and situations vary. For some it’s affordable housing, for others it may be additional education, assistance finding a job or learning to live within a budget. Most often it’s not just one but a combination of needs that prevents families making the improvements. The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program is one means of helping clients overcome the struggle and become ‘former’ clients.
Deidre Morris was a young, single mother with a desire to go to college because a degree held the promise of being able to better support her family. But with no job, inadequate housing, and an active 3 year-old son, she was finding that just getting by was difficult enough.
In September 2011, Deidre received a voucher through the Housing Choice Voucher program operated by ESC. This voucher offered rental assistance so she could more easily provide a safe, stable home for herself and her son. It also took some of the pressure off of her so she could give more attention to other goals. Working with Staci Bingham, FSS Program Coordinator, Deidre found the support, encouragement and resources needed. She was able to work part- time while attending college, care for her son and set aside a small amount of money at the same time. An important part of the Family Self-Sufficiency program is a stipend for those actively working on becoming self-sufficient by increasing their earned income. So while Deidre was working she was also building up a balance that could be used as a down payment on a home or replacement vehicle.
Today Deidre no longer receives housing assistance and is no longer eligible for the FSS program – she doesn’t need them any longer. With a Bachelor’s degree from Missouri Southern State University she was able to get a full-time job and she enjoys making a good living for herself and her son. The stipend Deidre earned during four years of participation came to $9,000 that she will put to good use in her new life as a "former" client.