Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan During a Housing Counseling Grants
Announcement Conference Call

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thank you all for joining. Today, I'm proud to announce more than $42 million in housing counseling grants to 468 organizations in communities across the country that prevent foreclosures and help families find decent housing.

For nearly four decades, HUD's Housing Counseling Assistance Program has played a critical role helping families realize the dream of owning a home and find quality, affordable rental housing. It's also provided assistance to renters and the homeless, and offered financial literacy training that helps homeowners and communities alike.

And during this crisis, the services this program has funded have been nothing less than indispensible.

Nearly 6 million families have been assisted by HUD-approved housing counselors over the last three years. In 2010 alone, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies counseled more than 3 million households -- a record at a time of enormous need.

But it's not just the sheer number of people who've received help from this program that's important -- even more important are the results HUD's program has produced.

A recent study found that 9-in-10 families who received foreclosure counseling from HUD-approved counselors continued to live in their homes 18 months later.

According to NeighborWorks America, distressed homeowners working with a housing counselor are nearly twice as likely to receive a modification on their mortgage.

These resources are a big reason why more than 5.7 million modifications have been started since April 2009 -- and why the number of foreclosure notices across the country is about half of what it was when President Obama took office.

Preventing foreclosures not only provides relief to homeowners directly -- it also improves their neighbors' property values and helps speed economic growth in their communities.

Put simply, housing counseling works.

Now, as many of you know, despite the evidence that housing counseling does work, last year Congress eliminated funding in the FY 2011 budget agreement.

I'm proud that we were able to restore some of this important funding in the recent budget agreement -- which made today's announcement possible.

But I'm even prouder that we were able to cut the time it took to get these funds on the street by nearly 70 percent.

And as important as these resources are, at a time of great need and limited resources, they are not the only arrow we have in our quiver.

Indeed, in the recent $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement with the five largest servicers, $2.6 billion was provided to states that can be used for foreclosure prevention efforts such as housing counseling.

Already, we've seen Attorneys General across the country commit to using these funds to help homeowners.

Indeed, in the hard-hit Midwest, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan--a Democrat--and her neighbor, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller--a Republican--are each planning to use these funds for counseling and other resources that have proven track records of stopping foreclosures.

And while needs and requirements vary from state to state, we are encouraging Attorneys General from all 49 states that received funds from this settlement to follow their lead.

So, this is an important moment -- providing the resources families need to save their homes, stabilizing home prices and speeding economic growth.

That's what housing counseling is about -- and it's why I'm proud to make this announcement today.

And with that, I'd love to take any questions.


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