Housing Authority Shuts Down Counseling Program, Cites Funding

Housing counseling services will no longer be available to homeowners living in Fort Wayne, Indiana, reports the Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne Housing Authority has cited funding reductions as the primary reason it will not be providing counseling to its area residents. 

For more that 20 years, the authority has provided housing-related services related to reverse mortgages, mortgage default, pre-purchase, and rental delinquency.

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Now, those services are being consolidate with those of partner agencies in order to reduce costs, writes the Gazette.

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration’s FY 2014 budget appropriated $55 million in funding for HUD programs including mortgage counseling.

Although the figure is more than what was allotted for the prior year, the future remains uncertain for counseling agencies nationwide.

The Journal Gazette urges clients of the Foreclosure Prevention Network, Hardest Hit Fund program and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to visit the website of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority to seek out counseling services.

Read the Journal Gazette article.

Written by Jason Oliva

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  • That’s because they operated under a dinosaur counseling
    model. There are agencies out there that are using a model that is successful and efficient, and they haven’t ever received funding and don’t count on it! These are the ones that my customers use and that will be here in the long run. They charge, but allow those in need to put it on the HUD, but expect most to pay upfront. It’s like they say, you get what you pay for! Same day service and instant updates/corrections. They have changed the way we do business. Stories like this are going to become more common because it’s easy to get stuck in our old ways…we have to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new!

    • 1SeasonedBroker,

      Let us see the modern counseling agency will counsel knowing they may or may not be paid depending on how low income borrowers will qualify and then decide. Oh, they remind me of how other players in the HECM process players get paid, funded loans.

      So the counselors you use will give up their independence (independent = not dependent for compensation payment based on the loan closing) based on the income level of the counselee. Can something which is independent based on income and willingness to pay upfront be called independent?

      Even fearlessly ethical NRMLA basis its ethical rules on revenue. Before April 1, members did not have to disclose that there were adjustable rate products but immediately after the fixed rate Standard goes away, we have a new rule which requires that members disclose what kinds of HECMs are generally available on the market.

      Oh, yes, our industry is truly professional. Just look at our independence and ethical standards. None of them are based on revenues (LOL).

      I chuckle every time I read about our high ethical standards and our fierce independence. Then there are those who promote the industry as composed of professionals.

    • Hello 1Seasoned Broker,

      If they are giving you same day service on the counseling, then they are violating HUD’s regulations. As for updates/corrections, those are easy and I do most of them while people are on the phone.

      For many of the reasons mentioned by the Cynic, we do charge up front, however we will waive fees for anyone under 200% of the poverty line, no questions asked, and if a senior is debt burdened to the point they cannot pay, we will often waive fees even if they are over 200% of the poverty line. However, in those cases it often becomes a question of need and we do inquire more deeply.

      The places where I often run into the biggest problems are the ones that our office has established to be sure that the consumer is not being taken advantage of. We always make sure that the counseling certificate goes to the individual receiving the counseling, whether by handing it to them or mailing it to them. We do not fax them to brokers, mail them to brokers, or send them anywhere other than the home owner. That way it is the homeowner’s choice as to what they do with them, not ours. Short of an immanent foreclosure, counseling sessions happen a minimum of one week from the time of the call. The counseling package goes out to the client so they have a chance to read and absorb it. (Yes, I know some brokers send out their own and we can use those, however, I have found that some brokers alter the packages and therefore I do not take chances and send out my own.) We insist on talking to the homeowner and will not talk with the broker, per HUD rules. If the broker calls, I cannot be the counselor. The biggest problem most have with us is that we do not do counseling over the phone, we strictly do it in person. That is my own personal choice, because if someone is sitting with me in person, then I can tell whether or not they get it. It may make my sessions a bit longer, but I am sure that people know what they are getting into by the time they leave.

      Frank J. Kautz, II
      Staff Attorney

      Community Service Network, Inc.
      52 Broadway
      Stoneham, MA 02180
      (781) 438-1977
      (781) 438-6037 fax
      FrankKautz@csninc.org –work
      Frank@Kautzlaw.com –private

  • “Housing counseling services will no longer be available to homeowners living in Fort Wayne, Indiana, reports the Journal Gazette.”- Fortunately, the Housing Authority was not the only housing counseling agency in the Fort Wayne area, and there is still a local agency providing HECM counseling with 3 certified counselors. To be fair, the Housing Authority in Fort Wayne has not had a roster-certified counselor in over a year, so this isn’t really breaking news on the Reverse Mortgage front.
    The trend, though, is something to keep in mind. There are precious few counselors in Indiana as it is, and to lose an agency providing any type of housing counseling will put more pressure on other agencies.

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