October 26, 2004
BUSH ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES $43.7 MILLION IN HOUSING COUNSELING GRANTS FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
WASHINGTON - Nearly 910,000 individuals and families will have a greater opportunity to find housing or keep the homes they have because of more than $36 million in housing counseling grants announced today by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson.
It is estimated these grants will assist more than 709,000 people to either become first-time homeowners or remain homeowners after their purchase. The grants were awarded to 18 national and regional organizations and approximately 340 state and local housing counseling agencies. These organizations will provide counseling services and will help meet the Bush Administration's goal of increasing minority homeownership by 5.5 million families by the end of the decade.
"HUD's Housing Counseling program plays a key role in support of the President's goal," said Jackson. "Under this Administration, more families are receiving counseling services than ever before and more families are purchasing and keeping their homes. In addition, this program is also helping more families find the help they need to secure decent and affordable rental housing."
The 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. Three of the 18 intermediaries receiving grants this year are faith-based organizations.
Of the $36,014 million in housing counseling grants, $2.5 million is being awarded specifically to combat predatory lending, including awards to five national and regional intermediaries and 42 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.
Additionally, $1.7 million is being awarded 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 5 national intermediaries and 34 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.
This year, as part of its ongoing effort to improve housing counseling services, HUD will also award a $7.75 million grant to the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NRC) to standardize counseling services nationwide and provide training to housing counselors working at HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. NRC will conduct national, regional, and local training sessions for approximately 5,000 counselors on a broad array of housing topics. HUD's purpose in awarding this grant is to expand the knowledge and skills of housing counselors and improve the quality of counseling services offered by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. NRC is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of housing counseling training and will bring an additional $8 million in leveraged funds to support this counselor training effort.
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. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet.
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