The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded more than $42 million in housing counseling 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 leverage will assist more than 1.4 million households find housing, make more informed housing choices, or keep their current homes.
June is National Homeownership Month, a time HUD recognizes how homeownership enhances lives and contributes to thriving communities. “Dare to Own the Dream” is the theme of this month-long recognition, reinforcing the long-held belief that owning a home remains one of the cornerstones of the American Dream. The grants awarded were announced at a White House gathering to mark National Homeownership Month.
HUD Secretary Julián Castro says, “Housing counselors provide potential homeowners with the tools they need to ensure they’re ready and responsible. Their efforts give countless families a real shot at the American Dream of homeownership. The counseling organizations HUD supports are on the front lines in providing the full spectrum of services households need – from locating affordable rental housing, offering advice on how to become a homeowner, and preventing foreclosure.”
More than $40 million will directly support the housing counseling services provided by 31 national and regional organizations, five multi-state organizations, 17 State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs) and 181 local housing counseling agencies. In addition, HUD is awarding $2 million to four national organizations to train housing counselors who will receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs.
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.
Counseling improves housing outcomes for homebuyers, homeowners, and renters. Last month, HUD published research findings summarizing the impact of housing counseling has on families’ housing options and choices. In addition, 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.
Grant recipients address the full range of families’ housing counseling needs. This includes helping homebuyers evaluate their readiness for a home purchase, understand their financing and down payment options, and navigate what can be an extremely confusing and difficult homebuying process. The organization 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. 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.
For more information, visit www.hud.gov.