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.
Who is eligible
When families are found eligible for either public housing or the voucher programs — and if there is an adult in the family that is able to work — they will automatically be enrolled in Step. Families that are eligible for public housing or a voucher program that do not have an adult able to work will participate in the Classic program.
How it works
At the start of the program, each participant is provided a Step Schedule. This outlines their anticipated rent at each “step” (or year) of participation and helps to guide their financial planning. 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.
Step participants benefit from five years of housing assistance. The family’s contributions to rent will gradually increase over a five-year period, while AHFC's assistance will decrease.
- Year 1: A family’s shelter burden will be 28.5 percent of their gross income.
- Years 2-5: After the first year, the family’s rent is not tied to income. AHFC will gradually reduce its assistance while preparing families to assume more of the rent responsibility.
- After year 5: The family will be fully responsible for their unit’s rent and transition easily into the private rental or homeownership market.
AHFC recognizes every family’s goals and path toward achieving their goals are different; therefore, we provide custom support to families through our voluntary Jumpstart program.
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.
Many families entering Step already have clear personal and financial goals. They may work more independently toward fulfilling their goals by accessing Jumpstart consultations, educational opportunities, and financial incentives. Other families need more assistance in mapping out their personal goals and a plan for reaching them. They are able to utilize Jumpstart case management to identify their individual strengths, barriers and resources to set a road map toward self-sufficiency. Their case manager serves as a resource in needs assessment, defining strengths, setting goals, and finding resources to enhance job skills. Most importantly, the Jumpstart case manager is there to celebrate a family’s achievements and milestones toward meeting their goals.
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 about Jumpstart, click here.
Other help and resources for Step participants
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, the supplemental resources below give families the extra 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.
For more information
Phone: 1-855-686-3751 (907-586-3751 in Juneau)