Washington State families facing foreclosure, seeking affordable rental housing, or hoping to buy their first home will have a greater opportunity to find housing, or keep the homes they have, because of $297,235 in housing counseling grants announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Solid Ground of Seattle will receive $49,402, the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program will receive $49,716, the Community Housing Resource Center of Vancouver will receive $32,236, and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission will receive $166,881 to provide counseling to help Washington families “navigate” the homebuying and homeowning processes. Last year HUD awarded $207,366 to housing counseling agencies in Washington.
“Now, more than ever, it is crucial that Americans understand how to manage their money, navigate the homebuying process, and secure their financial future.” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “This critical funding will help counseling organizations continue to assist families in making more informed choices before they buy a home and counsel families facing foreclosure.”
Housing counseling grants will assist families in becoming first-time homeowners and remaining homeowners after their purchase. HUD-approved counseling agencies not only provide homeownership counseling, but also offer financial literacy training to renters and homeless individuals and families.
The funding is part of $60 million in housing counseling grants awarded nationwide.
National and regional agencies distribute much of HUD’s housing counseling grant 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.
Counseling agencies will use $8 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.
The organizations that provide housing counseling services help people become or remain homeowners or find rental housing, and assist homeless persons in finding the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live. Grant recipients also 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, grantees help combat predatory lending by helping unwary borrowers review their loan documentation, and 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. 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 biennial performance reviews to maintain their HUD-approved status.
Adapted from a HUD press release.