HUD Creates First-Ever Housing Counseling Advisory Committee

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) named the 12 individuals who will make up the first-ever Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee (HCFAC).

The advisory panel was established under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and will help HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling improve all efforts to provide consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed and lasting housing decisions, HUD stated in a release this week.

Last April, HUD asked for nominations for the panel, which comprises four sectors: mortgage, real estate, consumer and housing counseling. The 12 professionals elected to serve on the committee bring experience from both the private and public sectors.

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Many members have spent their careers working with banks, credit unions, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, as well as state housing finance agencies, among other community groups and trade associations.

Notable members include Meg Burns, managing director of The Collingwood Group, and Arthur “Buz” Zeman of Housing Options Provided for the Elderly (HOPE)—who will serve on the committee’s Consumer and Housing Counseling sectors.

During her career, Burns has served in the housing arena with several federal agencies, including holding the position of director for the Office of Single Family Program Development at FHA from June 2007-May 2010 and September 2005-February 2007.

Over the years, Burns played an important role in the development of the HECM program during her time with FHA. More recently, Burns served as senior associate director for the Office of Housing Regulatory Policy at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, March 2011-September 2014.

Zeman has served as the executive director of HOPE since 1993. The organization serves seniors and caregivers of seniors with counseling services related to housing and many related issues, such as access to public benefit programs, budgeting and planning.

In recognition of his 22 years of advocacy related to reverse mortgage counseling, HOPE received an unrestricted donation of $27,134 from the National Center for Home Equity Conversion. Additionally, Zeman provides support to 40 counselors in National Council of Aging’s “Reverse Mortgage Counseling Services” program.

HCFAC will explore new opportunities to expand access to HUD housing counseling programs, develop new innovative strategies to support community-based counseling agencies and identify methods to leverage resources to increase the impact of federally funded housing counseling.

Members on the panel will develop new strategies to evaluate the health and capacity of the housing counseling industry with a primary focus on disaster recovery. The program will also find new ways to improve technology use in housing counseling.

Written by Alana Stramowski