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HUD No. 02-016
Media Contact: Lemar Wooley
(202)708-0685 x6631
For Release
January 24, 2002

Martinez Announces $15 Million to Protect Prospective Homebuyers and Renters

WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez announced a $15 million increase for housing counseling in the fiscal year 2003 budget to provide comprehensive counseling services including pre-purchase, default and renter counseling to potential homeowners and tenants. The additional commitment by Martinez, brings the agency's total commitment for the Housing Counseling program to $35 million for the coming fiscal year.

Housing counseling is also a fundamental element of HUD's community-based efforts to combat predatory lending. First-time minority homebuyers are especially vulnerable to predatory lending practices. Housing counseling is one of the most cost-effective ways educate borrowers on matters such as inflated appraisals, interest rates, understanding the lending process, budgeting and avoiding rental delinquency.

"HUD will be able to help another 150,000 families navigate the homebuying process and better understand the responsibilities of homeownership," said Martinez. "Housing counseling will take the uncertainty out of home buying for thousands of Americans, allowing them to take part in the American dream and own a home."

This funding goes to non-profit national and regional intermediaries, local housing counseling and state housing finance agencies that provide free advice and guidance to low- and moderate-income families seeking to improve their housing conditions. In addition, the intermediaries help improve the quality of housing counseling services and enhance coordination among housing counseling providers.

HUD's housing counseling grants enable anyone — current homeowners, prospective buyers or renters — to get the counseling they need to improve their housing conditions and be responsible owners and renters. By improving the quality of renter and homeowner education, the competitive grants help families make better, more informed home purchases; improve their ability to budget for needed home expenses and regular mortgage or rent payments; recognize and avoid predatory lending; and make the lending process less frightening.

Increasing the availability of housing counseling is central to HUD's efforts to improve minority homeownership rates. While more than two-thirds of Americans own their own home, fewer than half of African-American and Hispanic families are homeowners. This increase in funding will help build the capacity of counseling agencies and enable agencies across the country to hire and train bilingual counselors, and produce materials in multiple languages, in order to reach out to, and assist, Hispanics and other minorities in buying a home.

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 biannual performance reviews to maintain their HUD-approved status.



Content Archived: April 9, 2010

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