The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday awarded $50.6 million in counseling grants to agencies across the country, following through on one of Ben Carson’s key initiatives so far in his tenure as secretary.
The vast majority of the grant cash — about $47 million — will go directly to hundreds of national, regional, and local agencies that provide housing counseling programs to prospective borrowers, including those that offer mandatory Home Equity Conversion Mortgage counseling sessions. HUD awarded the remainder to national groups that train housing counselors.
“Quite simply, knowledge is power,” Carson said in a release announcing the grants. “We know that armed with the information they need, those who receive counseling services are far more successful in buying, renting, or avoiding foreclosure.”
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon currently serving in his first public role, emphasized the importance of housing counseling in appearances before House and Senate committees early last month. The secretary and former Republican presidential hopeful lamented what he perceived as a decline in housing knowledge among the general public, claiming that in the past, “everybody” knew not to spend two and a half times your annual salary when buying a house, for instance.
“That kind of information has been lost, and that makes counseling ever more important at this time, so we have concentrated a great deal of effort on all of those housing counseling centers,” Carson told the House committee.
The Trump administration spared housing counseling programs from its proposed $6.2 billion in cuts to HUD funding for fiscal 2018, calling for the same $43 million that the department set aside in 2017 and 2016. In the release announcing this most recent round of grants, Carson positioned spending on counseling as a wise move to prevent issues down the road.
“This is a smart investment in helping families find and keep their homes,” Carson said.
Written by Alex Spanko