The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded more than $40 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. See a list of all counseling agencies awarded funding today.
"These grants are an essential tool to help families find suitable housing or to keep the homes they have," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "HUD-approved counseling agencies use this funding to support a wide range of services from assisting lower income persons to locate an affordable apartment to helping first-time homebuyers avoid unsustainable mortgages."
More than $38 million will directly support the housing counseling services provided by 29 national and regional organizations, seven multi-state organizations, 22 State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs) and 232 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.
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 grantee, organized by state.
In 2012, HUD released two reports on the impact of HUD-approved housing counseling for families who purchase their first homes and those struggling to prevent foreclosure. In both studies, HUD found housing counseling significantly improved the likelihood homeowners remained in their homes.
Grant recipients utilize funding to address the full range of families' housing counseling needs. This includes helping homebuyers and homeowners 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 homebuyers 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.