Beyond Housing.

Support Programs & Initiatives
Beyond Affordable Housing

More than housing

Housing is an important issue and safe, affordable, and reliable housing is the foundation upon which strong families are built. However, housing is just part of the equation. That’s why WCHA provides and supports programs that tackle important issues beyond housing like education, job placement, childcare, financial literacy, transportation and more.

We’re constantly innovating, working with our team and partners in the community to solve some of the most complex problems facing families in our region. Below are just a few of the programs we provide and intiaitves of which we’re proud to be a part.

Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program helps residents work toward educational, career, and personal goals for themselves and their family.

Once a family is selected to participate in the program, they work with WCHA to set goals. Then, the FSS Program connects them with services and resources to achieve those goals.

Some of the services coordinated through the program include:
  • Childcare
  • Transportation
  • Education and job training
  • Employment counseling
  • Financial literacy
  • Homeownership counseling

Increases in the family’s rent as a result of increased earned income during the family’s participation in the program is placed as a credit in the family’s escrow account (like a savings account). Once a family graduates from the program, they may access the escrow money and use it for any purpose.

WCHA has strong participation among our families in the FSS program and they are achieving amazing results. In just a 12-month period of time, WCHA’s FSS program had 3 graduates, 44 participants earn an escrow balance, 6 enroll in school, 8 complete GEDs or other educational programs, and one family purchased their own home.


B. Scott Lewis

Resident Opportunity Support Services (ROSS)

The Resident Opportunities Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) Program is a federally funded program that provides residents in public housing help coordinating services for work readiness.

Some of the services coordinated through the program include:
  • Education
  • Job training and counseling
  • Job search skills
  • Business development training
  • Tutoring
  • Adult literacy
  • Computer access
  • Personal and family counseling
  • Health screening and other health services
  • Transportation
  • Childcare

The ROSS Program also helps connect residents to other services related to finances and job developments. The program links participants to jobs/job placement services, assistance with start-up and financing of micro-enterprises, community credit unions and loans.

The goal of the ROSS Program is to increase a family’s earning potential to reduce or eliminate their need for public assistance and help them achieve independence and housing self-sufficiency. For the elderly or disabled, the ROSS Program helps improve living conditions and allow residents to stay at home.


Emily Schwartz

Graduated Re-Entry Program

Through the Graduated Re-Entry Program, WCHA is working to address the needs of individuals recently released from prison or jail with housing and other basic support services.

Getting your life back on track after incarceration can be hugely challenging. Affordability of housing, restrictive housing policies, lack of employment and credit history, and the stigma of having a criminal conviction are some of the obstacles facing incarcerated people re-entering communities.

The Graduated Re-Entry Program stems from a successful pilot program that originated from The Marron Institute at New York University. Through the Graduated Re-Entry Program, currently incarcerated individuals are referred into the program via the Parole Re-Entry Group. Once accepted, candidates for the program are placed in contracted, privately owned housing in one of three counties.

The program extends beyond housing. WCHA partners with several agencies to ensure parolees have the support services they need to remain successful after release.

Thanks in part to the success of the program, WCHA was one of only four agencies in the nation awarded a technical assistance program called Opening Doors to Public Housing Initiative from the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), with support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). As a result, WCHA will receive assistance to increase access to housing, improve safety of public housing, and promote collaboration between agencies to improve re-entry outcomes for people leaving prison and jails.


Rockford Veteran’s Drop-In Center

The Veterans Drop-In Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 to help support Rockford-area veterans and their families. Less formal than some other veterans’ organization, the Drop-In Center provides no-cost social services and peer support.

Some of the services coordinated through the Center include:
  • Social activities
  • Computer classes
  • Meals
  • Haircuts (3x/month)
  • Access to VA and Vet Center representatives
  • Referrals to area veterans’ resources

WCHA was proud to be a partner in creating the Veterans Drop-In Center. In collaboration with Home Depot in Rockford, the Home Depot Foundation, and many volunteers from the Rockford community, WCHA acquired and renovated a foreclosed home at 1539 S. Fourth St. After completing the renovation, the home was donated to the Rockford Veterans Drop-In Center as their new site.


Veterans Drop-In Center

National Community Stabalization Trust (NCST)

Abandoned and foreclosed homes can turn into blight in a neighborhood. Lack of sufficient affordable housing puts a strain on our low-income families

NCST works to address both challenges at the same time by restoring vacant and abandoned properties and leasing to families in need of an affordable housing option.

The National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST) is a non-profit organization that works to restore vacant and abandoned properties to productive use and protect neighborhoods from blight. Its programs facilitate the rehabilitation of vacant but structurally sound homes, enable safe, targeted demolition when necessary, and support creative and productive re-use of vacant land.

WCHA has worked with NCST to restore more than twenty foreclosed and abandoned homes in Rockford and South Beloit. We partner with YouthBuild Rockford to provide real-world opportunities for young adults to learn the construction trades while positively impacting whole neighborhoods.

Homes renovated through NCST are leased to Rockford Housing Authority families through its partnership with WCHA to prevent neighborhood blight in our community.

To learn more about the NCST Program, visit


Alan Zais

Officer Residency Program – ROCK House

The Residential Officer Community Keeper (ROCK) House helps police officers connect and establish relationships in neighborhoods identified as having crime concerns by providing the officers and his/her family free housing in that neighborhood.

The ROCK House is part of Rockford Police Department’s community policing initiatives. In partnership with the Rockford Police Department, WCHA helped launch the first two ROCK Houses on Revell and 15th streets in Rockford.


Rockford Police Department