The Family Self-Sufficiency Program Wall of Fame in the Fort Worth Housing Solutions Administration Building caught the eye of Charlotte Jones years ago. She wanted to learn more about those smiling faces on the wall.
“I inquired about it and was determined to join once I reached my one-year mark on housing,” Jones said. “I was very surprised when I got accepted on the program. I was very eager to learn anything and everything that would help me excel in my education and building credit.”
The FSS Program provides FWHS residents a pathway toward full-time employment, higher incomes and less dependency on financial assistance. Participants such as Jones set a five-year career and financial plan and work steadily to achieve their goals. FWHS case managers connect residents with services and resources they need to succeed.
Incomes typically grow as participants earn a college degree or technical certifications and gain full-time employment. In many housing programs, that would mean that residents pay a greater portion of their rent.
In the FSS program, however, an interest-bearing escrow account is established for each participating family. Monthly contributions are made to the account based on increases in rent that a tenant would typically pay as their income increases. Program graduates who achieve their goals may leave the program with an escrow payment of $10,000 or more, cash that may be used for any purpose.
Jones, 32, was born in Fort Worth’s Como neighborhood, grew up in Meadowbrook and graduated from Eastern Hills High School. She and her four kids, ages 2 to 13, are living in a Forest Hill duplex .
Jones started the FSS program at 25 and recently graduated, receiving a $27,032 escrow check she plans to use to pay off some debt and purchase a home in 2022. The program’s classes helped Jones build on her talents and confidence. She worked closely with FWHS FSS Specialist Cleisa Ramirez.
“I learned so many different things through the classes that were offered, from building credit, life skills, business skills, budgeting and social skills,” Jones said. “I was also inspired to finish my cosmetology career that I originally started back in my junior year of high school. I would have different life obstacles that would alter my ability to continue, but I never gave up. I went to four different cosmetology schools before graduating from the ITS Academy of Beauty.
“I had various amazing jobs in the industry within that time frame, such as owning a salon, and I also was hired as a brand ambassador/educator by a very well know hair company out of New Jersey that paid for me to travel the world and experience things that I would have never imagined, which kept me motivated to achieve more.”
Currently, she’s self-employed as a hairstylist, works at a salon, and operates two businesses out of her home. She also co-owns a hip-hop step aerobics class. Eventually, she hopes to reopen her salon.
Jones’ entrepreneurial spirit was born out surviving life’s challenges. She lost her mother at the age of 19 to multiple sclerosis and inflammatory breast cancer. She said her father battled drug addiction most of his life.
Now, she hopes to inspire and motivate others to pursue happiness and build financial freedom to pass down to their children.
“Graduating the FSS program has given me a sense of completion,” Jones said. “I’ve encountered many hardships and obstacles growing up, and being a part of this program with the resources and the support of these amazing counselors has literally changed my life.”