|HUD No. ND 03-16-12
March 16, 2012
HUD AWARDS AT LEAST $75,000 IN COUNSELING GRANTS TO HELP FAMILIES FIND AND KEEP HOUSING IN NORTH DAKOTA
HUD funding critical to support counseling agencies nationwide
WASHINGTON - As part of its continuing effort to help families find decent housing and to prevent future foreclosures, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced at least $75,000 in housing counseling grants to the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. As a result of this funding, North Dakota households will have a greater opportunity to find housing or keep their current homes. In addition to the funding to these state and local agencies, HUD is awarding $29 million to national, regional and multi-state counseling agencies that may also have an impact in North Dakota communities.
"The HUD-approved counseling agencies this funding supports are crucial in helping struggling families on a one-to-one basis to manage their money, navigate the homebuying process, and secure their financial futures," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "We fought hard to persuade Congress to restore funding for housing counseling in HUD's budget and now we're working to make these important resources available as quickly as possible."
HUD's Rocky Mountain Region Administrator Rick Garcia added, "Dedicated to serving, housing counselors educate and assist individuals and families navigate the complex process for sustainable homeownership. Guiding renters and potential homeowners in managing their housing choices, counselors provide critical information on rights and responsibilities, the importance of savings, ways to manage credit and debt responsibly, and how to become a good neighbor."
Housing counseling grants will assist families in becoming homeowners, many for the first time, and remaining homeowners after their purchase. They also provide assistance to renters and the homeless, and offer financial literacy training to individuals and families.
"These funds are complemented by the roughly $2.5 billion provided to the states as part of the $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement. Most states can use those funds for foreclosure prevention activities such as housing counseling and legal aid services," added Secretary Donovan.
More than $36 million in grant funds will directly support the housing counseling services provided by 27 national and regional organizations, 6 multi-state organizations, 16 State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs) and 419 local housing counseling agencies. In addition, HUD is awarding $2 million to three national organizations to train counselors who will receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs.
Counseling agencies will also receive $4 million to help assist senior citizens seeking reverse mortgages or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM). These agencies 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.
National and regional agencies distribute much of HUD's housing counseling grant funding to community-based grassroots organizations that provide information 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 counseling providers.
Grant recipients help 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. 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.
Grantees also help combat predatory lending by helping unwary borrowers review their loan documentation, and 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. With foreclosures at critical levels nationwide, these services are more important than ever.
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 monitoring and oversight to maintain their HUD-approved status.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing asa platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.