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Federal program helping LMH residents gain financial independence

The Family Self-Sufficiency program helps residents achieve financial goals, like buying a house or paying for an education.

TOLEDO, Ohio — When you think of Lucas Metropolitan Housing, you think of affordable housing for thousands of families. But the group also helps families with programs that work to uplift them out of poverty and into the middle class.

Tatiana Brown grew up in Toledo in a middle-class home with both parents. But she found it tough when she moved out on her own.

"I was sort of down on my luck," she said. "I was struggling as a single mother and I applied for housing."

She entered LMH housing in 2014. Her landlord told her about the Family Self-Sufficiency program. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gives federal grants to local agencies around the country. It's set up to help people achieve financial goals like buying a house, paying for education or reducing the need for public assistance.

"Now your rent will be higher," program specialist Drenda Knighten said, "and the difference from what you're paying in the program now to your new rent. That is what we save in an escrow."

The money saved in an escrow account goes toward whatever your goal is. Knighten says the experience has been rewarding helping people reach financial independence. She says often they just need a little guidance and encouragement.

"We are networking with agencies out in the community," she added, "and so therefore we can bring back the support of services that are available to the families based on their individual needs."

Brown stressed the program gives you the tools to reach your goals, even if you're starting from nothing.

"It's definitely that coaching that helps you to organize your thoughts, work on those goals and just kind of keep you at it," she said.

Brown graduated from the program after just two years and is now getting ready to close on her first home.

"I didn't think about how long it was going to take or anything like that," she said. "I just continued to try and do my best because I wanted more."

She encourages anyone in LMH wanting more for themselves to give the program a chance.

There are currently around 150 people in the program. 70 people have graduated since 2018.

If you are interested in the family self-sufficiency program and live in LMH housing, reach out to Lucas Metropolitan Housing at 419-259-9529.

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