January 5, 2011 (Jeff Alan)
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in an effort to help families find decent housing and to prevent future foreclosures, is providing nearly $73 million in housing counseling grants to more than 500 national, regional and local organizations.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan made the announcement saying that as a result of the funding, housing counseling and counseling training grants to hundreds of thousands of households will be available to provide a greater opportunity to find housing and keep the homes they already have.

The grants represent a $13 million, or 22 percent increase over last year’s funding level. In announcing the grant awards, Donovan said HUD-approved housing counseling agencies are a critical part of the nation’s housing recovery.

“These organizations are on the front lines of helping families who are desperate to remain in their homes,” said Donovan. “Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that we support these agencies that are working with struggling families on a one-to-one basis to manage their money, navigate the home buying process, and secure their financial futures.”

Nearly $68 million will support the direct provision of housing counseling services by 24 national and regional organizations, 5 multi-state organizations, and 484 state and local housing counseling agencies. In addition, HUD is awarding more than $5 million to three national organizations to train approximately 4,500 counselors who will receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs.

Counseling agencies provide a multitude of services including assisting senior citizens seeking reverse mortgages or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), help people become or remain homeowners or find rental housing, assist homeless persons in finding the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live, and help homebuyers and homeowners 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.

In addition, grantees 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.

For a list of all grants, organized by state, visit HUD’s website.

Tags: HUD, grants, counseling, mortgage scams, reverse mortgages, family assistance, training grants, predatory lending, mortgage borrowers, housing counseling agencies