Counseling Grants Of $41.7 Million Awarded To 362 State And Local Housing Agencies
Families will have a greater opportunity to find housing or keep the homes they have because of nearly $42 million in housing counseling grants announced by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD).
The grants will assist families in becoming first-time homeowners or remain homeowners after their purchase. Renters and homeless individuals and families will also benefit from the counseling offered by the grants. Grants were awarded to 18 national and regional organizations and approximately 362 state and local housing counseling agencies.
National and regional agencies distribute much of the HUD 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 nearly $42 million in housing counseling grants, $2.5 million is specifically to combat predatory lending, including awards to six national intermediaries and 46 state and local organizations. Grantees will assist unwary borrowers to 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.
Another $1.4 million of the grant total is specifically for counseling in conjunction with HUD’s Section 8 Homeownership Voucher Program, which allows low-income individuals to use rental vouchers to purchase homes.
Awards under this category are made to five national intermediaries and 36 state and local agencies. These grant recipients will help program participants 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.
A $3 million supplemental grant for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) counseling is being awarded to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation in partnership with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and Money Management International (MMI).
This grant 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.
Nearly $400,000 is specifically for counseling to Colonias residents. Colonias are unincorporated communities on the United States-Mexico border that characteristically lack: decent, safe, sanitary and accessible housing; adequate sewage systems; and a potable water supply.
Awards under this category are made to three national intermediaries and four state and local agencies. Limited banking experience and financial literacy makes Colonias residents particularly vulnerable to predatory lending.
Grant recipients will provide Colonias residents with the sound advice they need to successfully navigate, and when appropriate avoid, the complex, and often unscrupulous, title and ownership arrangements, such as contract for deed, often marketed to these populations.
The organizations that provide housing counseling services help people become or remain homeowners or find rental housing. HUD-funded housing counseling agencies also assist homeless persons to find the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live.
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 as well as enforces the nation’s fair housing laws.