Over 130 groups support more funding for housing counseling

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.

Sincerely,

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

BCAP

Bergen County Division of Senior Services 

BMO Harris Bank

Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust

Broward County Housing Authority

Burlington Community Action Partnership, Inc.

CCCSMD

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

CHES, Inc.

Chestnut Credit Counseling Services

Chhaya Community Development Corporation

Clarifi

Coastal Enterprises, Inc.

Community Development Network of MD

Community Enterprise Investments, Inc.

Community First

Community Housing Solutions

Consumer Credit and Budget Counseling, Inc

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc.

Dakota CDA

DevNW

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

HCDNNJ

Help the People Programs HCA

HOME PRESERVATION AND PREVENTION INC DBA HPP CARES

HomeFree-USA 

HomeOwnership Center, Inc.

HomesteadCS

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 Channel

Housing Opportunities of  Fort Worth, Inc.

Housing Partnership for Morris County, Inc.

HousingWorks RI 

ICCF

Isles 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

Lawrence CommunityWorks

Layton Boulevard West Neighbors

Lexington Housing Community Development Corporation

MACDC

MaineStream Finance

Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance

MCDC

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

NCCCED 

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

NID Plainfield 

North Montgomery Citizens United for Prosperity (MCUP)

Northfield Community LDC

Northside CDC

Northside Community Development Corporation

Northside Community Resources

Nueva Esperanza, Inc.

NWCS, Inc.

Ohio CDC Association

OnTrack WNC Financial Education & Counseling

Our Casas Resident Council Inc.

Penquis

PRAHD

Proud Ground

PUP

Quantum Housing Corporation

Racine Revitalization Partnership, Inc.

Religious Communities Impact Fund

Revitalize Milwaukee

Riverworks Financial Clinic

Rockland Housing Action Coalition

Rocky Mountain CRC

RUPCO, INC

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

UnidosUS

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 

 

[1] 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

[2]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.

 

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