RISMEDIA, Oct. 8, 2007-Approximately 700,000 families will have a greater opportunity to find housing or keep the homes they have because of more than $44 million in housing counseling and counseling training grants announced by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson.
Housing counseling grants will assist families in becoming first-time homeowners and remaining homeowners after their purchase. Renters and homeless individuals and families will also benefit from the counseling offered by the grants. These grants, totaling over $41 million, were awarded to 19 national and regional organizations and nearly 370 state and local housing counseling agencies.
Housing counseling training grants will help approximately 2,600 counselors receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs. These grants, totaling $3 million, were awarded to two national organizations.
“This Administration strongly believes in the value of housing counseling services,” said Jackson. “These organizations help families make informed choices before they take the important step of homeownership. They also provide a service that is vital in today’s mortgage market – they counsel families facing foreclosure and advise them about their options.”
National and regional agencies distribute much of HUD’s housing counseling grant funding to community-based grassroots organizations that provide advice and guidance to low- and moderate-income families seeking to improve their housing conditions. In addition, these larger organizations help improve the quality of housing counseling services and enhance coordination among other counseling providers.
Of the more than $41 million in housing counseling grants, $3 million is being awarded in supplemental funding for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) counseling. These funds will 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.
The organizations that provide housing counseling services help people become or remain homeowners or find rental housing, and assist homeless persons in finding the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live. Grant recipients also help home buyers and homeowners realistically evaluate their readiness for a home purchase, understand their financing and down payment options, and navigate what can be an extremely confusing and difficult process.
In addition, grantees help combat predatory lending by helping unwary borrowers avoid 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. With foreclosures on the rise nationwide, these services are more important than ever.
HUD awards annual grants under the housing counseling program through a competitive process. Organizations that apply for grants must be HUD-approved and are subject to biennial performance reviews to maintain their HUD-approved status.
HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development, and enforces the nation’s fair housing laws.
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