Melissa Mercer, FSS Participant – Access to Rental Assistance

January 3, 2023

Melissa Mercer_no text_color

Access to rental assistance helps families FLOURISH. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your story.


Melissa is making the laborious effort to work and attend nursing school full-time. In 2007, Melissa was a Florida resident in need of rental assistance when she first received a Section 8 Program voucher. Wanting to be closer to her family, she relocated to Ulster County a few years later and was able to transport her voucher with her. Glad to be back in the Hudson Valley, Melissa enrolled in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, a five-seven-year incentive program that enables clients with a Section 8 voucher to increase their earned income and reduce their dependence on subsidies.

Melissa worked with Heide Tetro, RUPCO’s FSS Coordinator, to determine her short and long-term pursuits, and with a passion for learning and a goal in her sights, Melissa enrolled in nursing school. As part of the FSS program, an interest-bearing escrow account was set up in Melissa’s made up of the difference between the rent she paid when entering the program and the increased rent that she would be charged as her family’s earned income improved.

“Having a stable home has helped me go back to school and better myself” she said. I am working on a skill set that I can use to grow my career, starting with a place to rest my head at night.”  In addition to rental assistance, Melissa was also able to receive additional stipends for purchasing books for her nursing program. “Heide Tetro has been so helpful to me! She tells me about programs available, including paying my security deposit and first months rent when I moved in and now the stipend for my books for school.” Now in the FSS program for over a year, Melissa continues to work towards finishing her degree and has ambitions to become a homeowner.

Melissa is one of 56 FSS participants enrolled in Ulster County working to achieve their goals.