my information

--- Issued February 3, 2013

Alisa Bibbs, a 2012  graduate of the Erie Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program, has won the 2013 Self-Sufficiency Award from the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania.

From left, at the Alisa Bibbs FSS graduation ceremony were Bibbs’ son, Jermaine; Alisa Bibbs; John E. Horan; and FSS Coordinator Lynette Burkhart.

Bibbs graduated from the self-sufficiency program on October 10, 2012,  and bought her own home the day before.

“I promised my son, Jermaine, (now 19) that when he graduated from high school, we would have our own house,” Bibbs said. “With the help of FSS, and FSS Coordinator Lynette Burkhart, I kept that promise,” Bibbs said at her graduation.

In the Section 8 Family Self-Sufficiency Program, participating families agree to work toward becoming self-sufficient by reducing, and eventually ending, their dependence on welfare and Section 8 financial assistance.  When a family enters the program, the Housing Authority establishes an escrow/savings account for them based on the rental subsidy they receive from the Housing Authority.  As the participant improves his or her job, education, and income, the Authority reduces the amount of money it pays toward the participant’s rent and instead, puts that money into an interest-bearing savings account.

When the family is self-sufficient – no longer receiving welfare, housing, or other subsidies – the money in the escrowed savings account becomes officially theirs.

Bibbs used her escrow amount for the down payment and closing costs on a single-family home.

The Community Action Association of Pennsylvania (CAAP) is a statewide association representing and assisting the 43 Community Action Agencies as they work to empower families and individuals, giving them the opportunity to gain the skills and confidence they need to succeed. CAAP acts as a statewide voice for local Community Action Agencies and low-income citizens, addressing policy issues of importance to them.

“Alisa met all the criteria,” said Joseph Ostrander, CAAP communications director.  “She got her own home; she put a good deal of money in a savings account; she paid off all her debts; she showed she was financial literate; and most importantly, she became totally self-sufficient, no longer receiving welfare, housing, or other subsidies.

“What is kind of cool is that she chose a 20-year mortgage as opposed to the traditional 30-year, because she understood that in so doing she would be paying less money over the long run.  So, thanks to the counseling she received in the FSS program, she demonstrated financial literacy.

“This is what CAAP and CAAP’s Self-Sufficiency Award is all about. Alisa is a perfect role model for what can be done with the right kind of counseling and self determination and drive.”

Bibbs herself shunned credit: “My caseworker, Lynette (Burkhart),  was very persistent and called me to remind me of appointments, things I needed to do, and encouraged me to keep moving toward my goal.  She was like my own cheerleader.

“I could not have done this without  her and the Family Self-Sufficiency Program counseling and its escrow program.”