By Samantha Swann
Posted Mar 14, 2019 at 9:10 PM
The Spartanburg Housing Authority awarded 13 women graduating from the organization’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program a total of $92,604.73 at the C.C. Woodson Recreation Center Thursday evening.
Awards ranged from about $200 up to around $30,000, cash that had been collecting in escrow accounts each graduate received upon entering the program. Award amounts were dependent upon each family’s earned income over their five years in the program. Families who have successfully completed the program can access their escrow accounts and use the funds for any purpose, though debt reduction, education or down payments on a home are encouraged.
“Go out and find your version of whatever it is that you have that makes you happy,” Tiffany Askew, the authority’s housing choice voucher administrator, said to the graduates. “I don’t drive a Tesla. I drive a Kia. But that Kia makes me happy. I live in a three-bedroom house, not a five-bedroom, but that three-bedroom makes me happy. So whatever your version is, go out and find it, and it’ll make you happy.”
Thursday’s graduates included Shirley Campbell (who received $196), Zedeta Mason ($1,316), Natalie McKelvin ($1,630), Tammy Crocker ($1,761), Karen Beasley ($2,165.60), Cynthia Moore ($4,968), Lakita Boyd ($5,520), Monique Jordan ($5,712), Latoya Martin ($8,858.19), LaCosta Hoover ($10,624) and Beverly Thomas ($12,532).
Several of the women completed degrees, found higher-paying jobs and even purchased homes before graduating the program.
The largest check, for $29,423.94, was presented to Tameka Grady. Grady said she plans to put the money toward her goals of homeownership for herself and her two children and opening her own business, a smart laundromat with a cafe, deli and computer lab.
“(I learned) how to be more self-sufficient, how to not spend a lot of money, how to build my credit,” Grady said. “I learned a lot about credit and just bettering myself as an individual.”
The Family Self-Sufficiency Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, sets families in financial need up with a service coordinator who can help connect them with local services and programs to get them on the path to financial stability. Families that participate in the program sign a five-year contract, by the end of which the head of household must be employed and no one in the household can receive certain types of public assistance, such as rental assistance.
HUD funds are what were put in the escrow accounts for each participant when they started the program.
“The process that we went through to get here, it was worth every moment tonight,” said Debbie Mills, the program coordinator. “I’m proud of each and every one of you, and this is not the end of our relationship. I’m still going to call you. I’m still going to text you and just make sure you’re still doing what you’re supposed to be doing, what you desire to do. I realize that I helped y’all, but you helped me more. You just needed a push.”
The Spartanburg Housing Authority received $62,637 in February to continue the local iteration of the program, the third-highest amount in the state after Greenville and Myrtle Beach.