Taking Steps To Long-Term Housing Security
Creating the Steps to Self-Sufficiency
In 2008, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) was one of only 39 Public Housing Authorities in the nation granted Moving to Work Status (MTW). A federal program, the purpose of MTW includes helping residents find employment and becoming self-sufficient, and increasing housing choices for low income families. In 2014, Moving to Work status allowed AHFC's Public Housing Department to create an ambitious new rental assistance initiative — called Step — that goes beyond just providing financial assistance.
Step is for families in AHFC’s public housing and voucher programs with an adult who is able to work and possesses the potential to increase their employment and financial options. Families are eligible to receive five years of rental assistance while they work toward financial independence.
To date, Step has graduated over 345 Alaskan families who have found long-term housing security, by remaining in public housing at market rent, securing a rental property at the market rate, or realizing their dream of homeownership.
Guiding Participants Along the Way
To guide their financial planning, families are provided a schedule which outlines their anticipated rent at each “step” (or year) of participation. At each step the family’s contribution to rent increases, while the financial assistance from AHFC decreases. To help families successfully progress, participants focus on financial literacy during the first year to optimize their income and spending power. There are many resources available along the way to support participating families, including Jumpstart.
Jumpstart provides access to free training and identification of helpful community resources that increase job skills, improve earning potential, and help families become more financially independent. All Step participants are strongly encouraged to apply and once enrolled, will work individually with their Jumpstart case manager to establish a schedule that fits their family’s needs and goals. Some families may be able to meet their goals with minimal assistance while others may need and desire more intensive one-on-one services. All families enrolled in Jumpstart are able to select from a menu of financial incentives that tie to their goals. Incentives include work and education rewards, tuition assistance, and a savings match obtainable at graduation. To learn more, click here.
"Jumpstart has given me support and I have more confidence to better myself. To not give up on my goals and to keep moving forward. I feel like I have somebody there to listen to my problems and help me figure them out and to keep thinking positive.”
– Lea, current Step participant and featured in the above photo
Helping Families Get Back on Track
Some families may experience life-changes or hardships along the way that could impact their ability to progress or graduate from Step. Whether it is an extraordinary circumstance that significantly impacts a participating family, or a hardship that prevents someone from graduating, these supplemental resources give families the support they need.
The Bridge Process
When a family experiences a significant decrease in income, a loss of a family member, out of pocket medical expenses, or other extraordinary circumstances, they can apply for Bridge. This process allows families to continue in Step with a temporary adjustment to their financial responsibility. To learn more, click here.
The Step Extension Process
If a family is approaching the end of their Step term but are anticipated to experience a high shelter burden (the percentage of their income that goes to rent), this process provides an additional two years of housing support. For more information, click here.
When COVID-19 hit Alaskan communities in 2020, families enrolled in Step were able to apply for additional and immediate rental relief due to pandemic-related income loss. Learn more about Safety Net here.
"My case manager helped me get back on track and encouraged me that I AM capable. I got information about community resources and classes and I’ve taken AHFC’s HomeChoice class. I’m so happy I was recently pre-approved for an FHA Loan with a lender and am looking forward to homeownership!”
— Tomeka, current Step participant
Providing Individualized Support From Start To Finish
Throughout Step, all participants have access to an impressive list of resources, including Jumpstart, the Jumpstart Employment Library, and many other community support services. Since the program's start, over 1600 households have received individualized support and guidance through Step.
Ready To Learn More? Contact Us!
Step is part of AHFC’s public housing and voucher programs. When families with an adult able to work apply for either a rental in public housing or assistance through a voucher, they are applying for Step. Please contact us by phone or email to learn more about your eligibility for these programs and the application process.
Phone: 1-855-686-3751 (907-586-3751 in Juneau)