NCRC’s Letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committees on Housing Counseling Budget Needs

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December 13, 2019

The Honarable Nita Lowey
2365 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20005

The Honorable Kay Granger
1026 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20005

The Honorable Richard Shelby
304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20005

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
437 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20005

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members/Vice-Chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee:

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and the undersigned organizations are writing to express concern for the current level of funding for the Housing Counseling Assistance program proposed by the U.S. Senate. The Senate in its recently passed appropriations bill proposed funding the Housing Counseling Assistance program at $45 million, which is not sufficient for the program to provide services to its clients. We, instead, urge the conference committee to provide $60 million of funding for the Housing Counseling Assistance Program for Fiscal Year 2020.  This amount represents an increase over the program’s current funding level and equals the level of funding included for this program by the House of Representatives in their Fiscal Year 2020 Transportation-HUD (THUD) spending bill.

The Housing Counseling Assistance program enables independent, high-quality non-profit organizations to work directly with consumers, empowering them to make informed, independent financial decisions that lead to increased access to homeownership opportunities and foreclosure prevention. Housing counselors provide vital resources to homeowners of all income levels. By helping buyers overcome various barriers to homeownership counselors assist clients with understanding essential programs, such as down payment assistance. A recent study from the Urban Institute found that 53% of renters cite saving for a down payment as an obstacle to homeownership.[1] Eighty percent of consumers either are unaware of how much lenders require for a down payment or believe all lenders require a down payment above 5%. Fifteen percent believe lenders require a 20% down payment, and 30% believe lenders expect a 20% down payment.

Housing counselors not only prepare families for responsible and sustainable homeownership through pre-purchase, post-purchase, delinquency and reverse mortgage counseling, but they have played an increasingly active and effective role in local disaster preparedness, response and recovery. HUD-approved housing counseling agencies have played key roles in the recovery from many natural disaster events, including Superstorm Sandy; Hurricanes Rita, Irma and Maria; and the California wildfires.[2]

Sadly, despite the positive results from housing counseling programs, there has been a sharp decrease in housing counseling funding over the past few years.HUD Housing Counseling Assistance was appropriated at $87.5 million during FY 2010[3], but by FY 2019 funding was down 42% to $50 million.[4] This drastic reduction in funding lead to not just a decrease in the number of housing counseling agencies available to help potential homeowners across the country, but also an institutional instability in the remaining housing counseling agencies. During FY 2014 in 2013, there were 2,367 HUD approved housing counseling agencies; but by February 2019, there were 1,820, a loss of 547 agencies, with more anticipated.[5]

For all of these reasons, we urge you to provide $60 million for the HUD Housing Counseling Assistance Program in the Fiscal Year 2020 THUD Appropriations bill. Thank you for considering this request.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Ibijoke Akinbowale, Director of Financial Equality Center & Housing Counseling Network or Gerron Levi, Director of Government Affairs.

Sincerely,

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)

(NDF) Neighborhood Development Foundation

Affordable Homeownership Foundation/Squirrels Nest

Anne Arundel County Community Action Agency

California Reinvestment Coalition

CASH Community Developmment

Chicago Community Loan Fund

Clayton Center CSB

Coastal Enterprises, Inc.

Communities In Schools of Miami

Community Enterprise Investments, Inc.

Community Link

Community Reinvestment Alliance of South Florida

Community Service Network

Consolidated Credit Solutions

Consumer Credit and Budget Counseling, Inc

D&E, A Housing & Economic Empowerment Center, In.

Desire Community Housing Corp

East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity

Family Management Financial Solutions, Inc.

Florida Housing & Development

Florida Housing Counselor Network

Friends of the African Union

Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc.

Georgia Sustainable Community Ventures

Hawai’i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development

Home Repair Resource Center

Homes on the Hill, CSC

HomesteadCS

Housing Action Illinois

Long Island Housing Services, Inc.

Manna Inc.

Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance

Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers

National Housing Counseling Agency

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans

Partners In Community Building,Inc.

Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations

Portland Housing Center

RCAP Solutions, Inc.

Rockland Housing Action Coalition

S J Adams Consulting

SOPOS Coalition

Southwest Neighborhood Housing Services

St. Johns Housing Partnership, Inc.

Supreme Preservation Services

The Resurrection Project

United South Broadway Corporation

Visit St. Augustine

Web Media Partners

Willissae’s Agency for Vision and Empowerment

Working In Neighborhoods

Wroy Professional Services

You Can Make It Home Ownership Center Inc

CC: Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee and THUD Subcommittees


 

[1] Barriers to Accessing Homeownership Down Payment, Credit, and Affordability – 2018, Urban Institute, at: https://www.urban. org/research/publication/barriers-accessing-homeownership-down-payment-credit-and-affordability-2018

[2] HUD Exchange: Housing Counseling Disaster Recovery Toolkit. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/housing-counseling/housing-counseling-disaster-recovery-toolkit/operating/.

[3] H. Rept. 111-336 at 56-57 (2009)

[4] H. Rept. 116-9 at 439-440 (2019)

[5] National Housing Resource Center, Why HUD Housing Counseling Programs Need Your Help (2019)

 

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