Dear Senate Leadership and Senate Appropriators:
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and the undersigned organizations are writing to urge the Senate to support housing counseling provisions included in H.R. 6800, the HEREOS Act, recently passed by the House. Housing counseling agencies have played an essential role following the nation’s housing crisis and numerous natural disasters since then. Congress appropriated over $800 million, allocated over successive rounds, for housing counseling during the financial crisis. While we are concerned that the economic fallout of COVID-19 on households will continue to grow and more support for housing counseling will be needed to respond, the funding included in the HEROES Act, is a critical first step. We also ask Congressional negotiators to consider enacting an extension of HUD’s housing counseling certification deadline for an additional year.
The COVID-19 health pandemic has quickly spiraled into an economic crisis not seen in generations. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 4.36% increase in the mortgage delinquency rate through the end of the first quarter, with almost 4 million homeowners on mortgage forbearance plans as of May 3. The National Multifamily Housing Council has also tracked significant upticks in unpaid rent and payment plans in April and May, with landlords holding $1.6 trillion in outstanding mortgage debt. Housing counseling agencies today need greater capacity to provide the full range of counseling and foreclosure and eviction mitigation services given the scale of COVID-19’s impact. Renters are in great risk of homelessness further making the need for housing counseling for renters as urgent as the need for homeowners. There must be swift relief to support the nonprofits helping consumers navigate through this crisis.
Post purchase counseling studies have found that housing counseling predicts a higher chance of both receiving a modification and avoiding foreclosure for homeowners in danger of losing their homes. It was also found that counseled borrowers who received modifications were better able to avoid repeated default than were comparable uncounseled borrowers. Also, pre-purchase homeownership workshops and one-on-one pre-purchase counseling provided by housing counseling agencies have been shown to improve financial creditworthiness as borrowers prepared to qualify for a home mortgage. Homeowners and prospective homeowners who receive counseling have higher credit scores, less overall debt and lower delinquency rates.
To ensure that there are enough certified housing counselors to serve renters and homeowners, Congress should also enact an extension of the housing counseling certification deadline for an additional year. Due to recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips and avoiding crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic, housing counseling agencies are in a difficult position. Though on-line housing counseling trainings are available, face-to-face trainings are much more effective, according to many housing counselors. Extending the certification deadline for one year will provide housing counselors with additional time to comply with the certification requirements and ensure in-person housing counseling services remain available for COVID-19 impacted households.
The nation must learn from the financial crisis and lay the groundwork for a housing recovery now by providing essential federal funding to maintain and build the capacity of housing counseling agencies to provide a range of COVID-19-related services to home buyers, homeowners and renters, including rental counseling, foreclosure and eviction prevention counseling and credit counseling. We urge you to support the funding for housing counseling include in H.R. 6800, the HEROES Act, as a first step and to extend HUD’s housing counseling certification deadline for an additional year.
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.
National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)
Administration of Resources and Choices
Affordable Homeownership Foundation, Inc.
Affordable Housing Alliance
Affordable Housing Centers of Pennsylvania
African Diaspora Directorate
Arizona Housing Coalition
Bergen County Division of Senior Services
BMO Harris Bank
Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust
Broward County Housing Authority
Burlington Community Action Partnership, Inc.
CEDA of Cook County, Inc.
Cenetr for Public Skills Training
Center for NYC Neighborhoods
Central Housing Resource Center Corp.
Central Islip Civic Council, Inc.
Centro de Apoyo Familiar
Chestnut Credit Counseling Services
Chhaya Community Development Corporation
Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
Community Development Network of MD
Community Enterprise Investments, Inc.
Community Housing Solutions
Consumer Credit and Budget Counseling, Inc
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc.
Empire Justice Center
Fair Housing Contact Service
Fair Housing Council of Northern NJ
Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, Inc.
Fair Housing Resource Center, Inc.
Faith Fellowship CDC
Family Housing Advisory Services
Family Housing Resources
Family Management Financial Solutions, Inc.
Frameworks Community Development Corporation
Frayser Community Development Corporation
GA Sustainable Community Ventures
GreenPath Financial Wellness
Hawai’i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development
Help the People Programs HCA
HOME PRESERVATION AND PREVENTION INC DBA HPP CARES
HomeOwnership Center, Inc.
Housing & Family Services of Greater New York
Housing Action Illinois
Housing America Corporation
Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
Housing Assistance Program of Essex County, Inc.
Housing Authority of the City of Paterson
Housing Opportunities of Fort Worth, Inc.
Housing Partnership for Morris County, Inc.
JASA/Legal Services for the Elderly inQueens
JCVision and Associates Inc
Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services
Keuka Housing Council, Inc.
La Casa De Don Pedro
Layton Boulevard West Neighbors
Lexington Housing Community Development Corporation
Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance
MHANY Management, Inc
Miami Valley Community Action Partnership
Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity
Minnesota Homeownership Center
MIssissippi Housing Partnership
Money Management International
National Housing Resource Center
National NeighborWorks Association
Neighborhood Housing Services of Staten Island
Neighborhood Housing Services of Waterbury
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County
New Economics for Women
NHS of New Haven
North Montgomery Citizens United for Prosperity (MCUP)
Northfield Community LDC
Northside Community Development Corporation
Northside Community Resources
Nueva Esperanza, Inc.
Ohio CDC Association
OnTrack WNC Financial Education & Counseling
Our Casas Resident Council Inc.
Quantum Housing Corporation
Racine Revitalization Partnership, Inc.
Religious Communities Impact Fund
Riverworks Financial Clinic
Rockland Housing Action Coalition
Rocky Mountain CRC
S J Adams Consulting
Sargent & Associates Real Estate
Southwest Community Development Corporation
Southwest Economic Solutions
St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center
St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society
St. Petersburg Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. dba Neighborhood Home Solutions
State Street Tenant Resistance Of St Louis
The Waterfront Project
Totally Free Inc
United Communities Southeast Philadelphia
United Community Center
United Tenants of Albany
Urban League of the Upstate
Washington Homeownership Resource Center
Womens Foundation of North Carolina
Working In Neighborhoods
 Myhre, PhD, M. L., & Watson, N. E. (2017, September). Housing Counseling Works. Retrieved from https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/Housing-Counseling-Works.pdf
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, The Effectiveness of Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling and Financial Management Skills (April 2014). Retrieved from https://www.philadelphiafed.org/-/media/community-development/homeownership-counselingstudy/2014/homeownership-counseling-study-042014.pdf.