The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that $79 million is available for a broad range of housing counseling programs to help families find and preserve housing. The available funding is an increase of $21 million, or 27 percent, over last year.
According to the agency, the grants will be awarded competitively to hundreds of HUD-approved counseling agencies and State Housing Finance Agencies across the nation that offer a variety of services including how to avoid foreclosure, how to avoid mortgage scams, how to purchase or rent a home, how to improve credit scores, and how to qualify for a reverse mortgage.
“The counseling programs this funding will support are crucial in helping thousands of families avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Every day, our HUD-approved counseling organizations help families to make more informed choices about buying or renting.”
HUD-approved counseling agencies provide homeownership counseling as well as financial literacy education to renters and homeless individuals and families. This year HUD’s Housing Counseling Grant program will provide approximately $55 million for comprehensive counseling; $9.5 million for HECM Counseling (reverse mortgages), and $14.5 million for supplemental funding for Mortgage Modification and Mortgage Scam Assistance.
The $9.5 million for HECM counseling is an increase of $1.5 million from last year and will be needed with new protocols rolling out in September. The new guidelines require that agencies provide clients with an information packet prior to the counseling session and in enough time so they have time to review the information and prepare questions.
The information packet can be sent via regular mail, priority mail, fax or email and must include, “Preparing for Your Counseling Session”, printout of loan comparisons and total Annual Loan Cost (TALC), loan amortization schedule, and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) booklet “Use Your Home to Stay at Home – A Guide for Homeowners Who Need Help Now”.
HUD also released the FIT Tool, which is meant to help illustrate the borrowers current financial situation and determine how a reverse mortgage might assist them in meeting their needs and goals.