The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $9.68 million in grants to hire service coordinators who will work to connect public housing residents across the country with community resources, according to an announcement this week.

HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson said in a statement, “These grants … allow local housing agencies help low-income families thrive for a lifetime by leading them to employment that moves them to self-sufficiency, even home ownership.”

The grant money was awarded through HUD’s Public Housing Family Self-Sufficiency program, which aids public housing authorities.

Program coordinators hired through the program work directly with residents and provide education, training and referrals to job placement organizations and local employers, according to the HUD announcement. Residents sign a contract to participate that details their responsibilities in training and employment objectives for up to a five-year period.

For each participating family that is a recipient of welfare assistance, the public housing authority must establish a goal that the family be independent from welfare assistance prior to the expiration of the contract, according to the announcement. “During the period of participation, residents may earn an escrow credit based on increased earned income, which they may use in a variety of ways, including continuing their education or making a down payment toward home purchase.”

A 2005 HUD study found that participants in a similar HUD self-sufficiency program had a higher rate of income growth than nonparticipants.

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