November 14, 2007
HUD ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO HELP FAMILIES FIND OR KEEP HOMES
$44 million awarded nationwide; $3.2 million awarded in Massachusetts
Today, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Director Taylor Caswell announced $2.1 million
in funding to Housing Partnership Network to help families and individuals find or keep homes.
The grant, part of $44 million nationwide, is being awarded under HUD's housing counseling program, which provides critical funding to help local agencies assist families in becoming first-time homebuyers by helping them to
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.
Housing counseling agencies also provide assistance to homeowners who are facing mortgage delinquency and default. In addition, renters and homeless individuals also benefit from housing counseling services provided at HUD-certified agencies.
"The value of housing counseling cannot be overstated," said Caswell. "Housing education programs offered by members of Housing Partnership Network help families make informed choices before they take the important step
The Housing Partnership Network is a membership organization comprised of local non-profit agencies that develop
and preserve affordable housing and foster economic opportunity for low- and moderate income families. The
Network has 92 members operating in all 50 states. Members have provided homeownership education to more than 400,000 households nationwide, resulting in 80,000 families purchasing or retaining their homes. With the funding announced today, the Network will support comprehensive counseling initiatives of 31 of its members, assisting
40,000 low- and moderate-income families with purchasing, retaining, and renting affordable homes throughout the country. Grant dollars pay for pre-purchase, post-purchase, foreclosure prevention and intervention, HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage), renter and homeless counseling.
"Given the foreclosure crisis affecting the country, we're pleased to have the resources to help impacted families," said Network President Tom Bledsoe, "Over the past year, Network counseling agencies saw a 50 percent increase
in the number of households seeking foreclosure counseling to keep their homes. We expect this to increase even more in the coming months."
The announcement was held at HAP, Inc., a Housing Partnership Network member organization that has been providing housing assistance to residents of Hampden and Hampshire Counties since 1973. As the region's housing partnership, HAP provides a broad range of housing counseling and other services to meet the needs of low and moderate-income households and is the region's largest nonprofit developer of affordable housing.
Over the past year, HAP has used HUD funding to provide housing education services to more than 1,000
households, nearly 100 of whom have become first-time homebuyers. In addition, the agency has helped 111 households avoid foreclosure.
"Good information on the front end helps new buyers avoid the kinds of problems that are now evident as
foreclosures rise steeply in our region and throughout the country," said HAP Executive Director Peter A. Gagliardi. "HUD's support of both pre- and post-purchase counseling is critical to our efforts to give homebuyers and homeowners the information they need to make smart choices."
This year with foreclosures on the rise, HUD is emphasizing the importance of housing counseling services more
When announcing the funding to Housing Partnership Network, Mr. Caswell also discussed a new program that may help homeowners who are facing foreclosure. The program - FHA Secure - will be administered by the Federal
Housing Administration, the branch of HUD that insures mortgages against default.
Under the FHA Secure plan, FHA will allow families with strong credit histories who had been making timely mortgage payments before their adjustable loans reset to a higher rate, but who are now in default, qualify for refinancing.
"FHASecure is designed for people who are good borrowers, but were steered into high cost loans with teaser
rates," said Caswell.
Traditionally, the FHA has provided first-time homebuyers, as well as homebuyers with less than perfect credit,
with a safe alternative to high-cost financial and non-traditional loan products. The FHA Secureinitiativewill operate under the same safe guidelines as the FHA's existing mortgage insurance program - eligible homeowners will be required to meet strict underwriting guidelines and pay a mortgage insurance premium, which offsets the risk to
FHA's insurance fund at no cost to the taxpayer.
To qualify for FHA Secure, eligible homeowners must meet the following criteria:
- A history of on-time mortgage payments before the borrower's teaser rates expired and loans reset;
- Interest rates must have or will reset between June 2005 and December 2009;
- Three percent cash or equity in the home;
- A sustained history of employment; and
- Sufficient income to make the mortgage payment.
For more information about FHA Secure and other homeownership programs, please contact HAP, Inc. at (413)
233-1614, or any of the 48 local HUD-certified housing counseling agencies in Massachusetts. For the list, visit www.fha.gov.
2007 Housing Counseling Grants
- Pro-Home Housing Counseling Agency - $52,538
- Plymouth Redevelopment Authority - $45,000
- Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority - $40,000
- Quincy Community Action Program - $40,000
- Community Service Network - $23,615
- Greater Boston Legal Services - $20,000
National Organizations Based in Massachusetts
- Housing Partnership Network - $2,139,125
- Citizens Housing and Planning Association - $710,296