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Helping Americans Keep Their Homes

Following up on research published last year stating that housing counseling has a positive impact for homebuyers, homeowners, and renters, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $47 million in housing counseling grants to assist 1 million families in keeping their current homes, locating new ones, and making informed choices.

National and regional agencies will be distributing HUD’s housing counseling grant funding to community-based organizations known primarily for working with low- and moderate-income families. The largest among these organizations are also tasked with improving the quality of counseling services for those either looking to buy or rent a home.

Thirty-one national and regional organizations, six organizations working across stateliness, 19 State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs), and 207 local housing counseling agencies are the key recipients of these grants. HUD will award $3.5 million to four national organizations so they can train and certify more housing counselors.

“HUD-approved housing counselors are on the front lines,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Their efforts give families a real opportunity to realize their dream of owning a home is obtainable by offering advice on affordable rental housing, home financing, and tools to prevent foreclosure.”

Grant recipients address the entirety of families’ housing counseling needs. These include helping homebuyers: assess their readiness to enter the market; understand their financing and down payment options; as well as navigate a process that for many is confusing or overwhelming. The organizations also assist families in finding affordable rental housing, offering financial literacy courses to those with bad credit affecting their ability to secure a mortgage and purchase a home. They also help the homeless in transitional housing as well as finding a permanent place of residence.

The counseling services also assist homeowners in reviewing loan documentation, helping them avoid fraudulent mortgage practices, overblown interest rates, inflated appraisals, impractical repayment terms, and anything else that might cause a  loss of equity, increased debt, default, or foreclosure. Likewise, counseling in the prevention of foreclosure is another of their specialties.

While the funding is meant to reach all fifty states, certain areas stand to receive the most assistance in terms of dollars—but none more so than Washington D.C., which is to receive over $7 million of the total $47 million. States like New York and California will also receive more than $3 million, but other states that stand to benefit the most are Pennsylvania ($4.1 million), Massachusetts ($3.5 million), Michigan ($3.2 million), and Virginia ($2.349 million).

To read HUD's research on housing counseling, click here.

About Author: J S Khan

J S Khan is a contributing writer for DS News and MReport. He is a graduate of Emerson College's MFA program in Creative Writing and publishes fiction on the side.

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