NEW: Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee created
WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 16, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded more than $36 million in grants to hundreds of national, regional and local organizations to help families and individuals with their housing needs and to prevent future foreclosures. HUD’s housing counseling grants and the additional funding they help to leverage will assist more than 1.5 million households find housing, make more informed housing choices, or keep their current homes.
HUD is also establishing a new Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee to help the Department provide consumers with the knowledge they need to find and sustain decent housing. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 requires HUD’s Secretary to appoint no more than 12 individuals from various backgrounds to offer advice to the Department regarding the functions of the Office of Housing Counseling. Read HUD’s Notice, which includes information on applying for a position on the Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee.
“Access to knowledge and information is vital to every family’s success,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These grants will expand housing opportunities for families across our nation. The evidence is clear: housing counseling works. We look forward to working with our housing counseling partners to empower American families with the tools to prosper.”
More than $34 million will directly support the housing counseling services provided by 29 national and regional organizations, six multi-state organizations, 20 State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs) and 215 local housing counseling agencies. In addition, HUD is awarding $2 million to three national organizations to train housing counselors who will receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs.
The comprehensive housing counseling housing grants announced today were competed through the Department’s two-year (FY2014 – FY2015) Comprehensive Housing Counseling Grant Program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) published March 4, 2014. On April 2, 2015,HUD published a FY 2015 Supplemental NOFA that makes FY2015 funding available to eligible housing counseling agencies that did not receive funding in the awards announced today.
If additional funds are available after the Department makes awards under the Supplemental NOFA, additional funding may become available to the agencies awarded funding today. Should funding become available, HUD may amend these awards and provide additional grant funding.
National and regional agencies distribute much of HUD’s housing counseling grant funding to community-based organizations that assist low- and moderate-income families to improve their housing conditions. In addition, these larger organizations help improve the quality of housing counseling services and enhance coordination among counseling providers. Read a summary of each grant, organized by state.
Recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Urban Institute continues to find substantial benefits to housing counseling for families who purchase their first homes and those struggling to prevent foreclosure. Read more about research evidence on the role housing counseling can play in reducing mortgage delinquency and foreclosure and helping first-time buyers access and sustain homeownership.
Grant recipients utilize funding to address the full range of families’ housing counseling needs. This includes helping homebuyers realistically evaluate their readiness for a home purchase, understand their financing and downpayment options, and navigate what can be an extremely confusing and difficult process. Grantees also help households find affordable rental housing and offer financial literacy training to individuals and families struggling to repair credit problems that restrict their housing options.
In addition to providing counseling to homeowners and renters, these organizations assist homeless persons in finding the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live. Finally, grantees also assist senior citizens seeking reverse mortgages or (HECM). These agencies provide counseling for the rapidly growing number of elderly homeowners who seek to convert equity in their homes into income that can be used to pay for home improvements, medical costs, and other living expenses.
Housing counseling agencies support fair housing by assisting borrowers in reviewing their loan documentation, to avoid potential mortgage scams, unreasonably high interest rates, inflated appraisals, unaffordable repayment terms, and other conditions that can result in a loss of equity, increased debt, default, and even foreclosure. Likewise, foreclosure prevention counseling helps homeowners facing delinquency or default employ strategies, including expense reduction, negotiation with lenders and loan servicers, and loss mitigation, to avoid foreclosure.
There are many ways to find a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. Visit HUD’s website or call (800) 569-4287 for our interactive telephone directory. Get the free housing counseling i-phone app from the app store (not yet available for android). Watch HUD’s video on how housing counseling can help families find (and keep) housing.