Parts of the federal government has now been shut down for 18 days, the second longest federal government shutdown in history. The matter regarding the funding for a southern border wall continues as Congress started their new session on January 3rd. Immediately following the Democrats taking control of the House, the chamber passed, by a vote of 241-190, a spending package that includes, six of the seven remaining Fiscal Year 2019 spending bills, including funding for HUD.

HUD issued a contingency plan in December 2018 outlining the status of its programs during the shutdown and which operations would continue or be on hold, including for Housing Counseling Assistance.

Housing Counseling Operations during Federal Government Shutdown
• The Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) will not have staff on board and will not process requests to draw down grant funds from the Line of Credit Control System (LOCCS).
• The Housing Counseling system (HCS) will be operational on a limited basis; however, actions that require intervention by OHC personnel will be either delayed or suspended.
• The housing counselor examination (housingcounselors.com) will be operational on a limited basis; however, actions that require intervention by OHC personnel will be either delayed or suspended. The housing counselor certification process relies on FHA systems and will be operational on a limited basis; however, actions that require intervention by OHC or HUD personnel will be either delayed or suspended.

The plan also provides answers to very pressing questions that would affect housing counseling agencies.

  1. The Housing Counseling System (HCS) will not be available. Consequently, counseling agencies will be unable to update agency profile information, submit activity data, or otherwise utilize the functionality in HCS. Once HCS back online, FHA will require all counseling agencies to submit activity data for the shutdown period retroactively.
  2. The hud.gov website will be available in “Maintenance Mode” only. This means that hud.gov will be up but there will be no updates made to pages on the site. As a result, HUD’s website housing counseling search functionality, and similarly HUD’s toll free number to search for counseling services, will still be available to households seeking counseling services. However, with HCS down, the data behind the search functionality will not be updated.
  3. While the LOCCS system should be functioning, there will be no HUD staff available to approve requests for disbursements. Consequently, no grant disbursements will occur during a shut down.
  4. While lenders can continue to take on-line courses through EClass, non-FHA approved Housing Counseling Agencies cannot receive approval to access EClass until the government reopens.

If you have any legislative questions or concerns regarding HUD funding or updates about the shutdown, please email Melody Imoh at mimoh@hsgcenter.org.