In the recent FY 2019 budget, HUD housing counseling received $50 million, a painful $5 million reduction from FY 2018. Word from House and Senate staff was that this was not a reflection on housing counseling, but a problem in the way the House and Senate reconciled their differences in their budgets, which worked against housing counseling.
But this reflects a continuing erosion in housing counseling funding. In FY 2010, HUD Housing Counseling Assistance was $87.5 million and now in FY 2019 we are down to $50 million. The last year of the highly successful NFMC foreclosure mitigation program funding was $40 million for FY 2016 and there are now no funds specifically targeting delinquency and foreclosure work. The result? In FY 2014, 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. In FY 2010, there were 3,026,137 counseling sessions. By FY 2017, counseling sessions were down to 1,121,957, a decline of 63%.
This sharp decline in funding and worrisome erosion of capacity is in contrast to the extensive research which shows the value of housing counseling in the home purchase process[i] and in foreclosure mitigation[ii]. Plus mortgage lenders recognize the value of housing counseling in properly preparing homebuyers and homeowners and in providing access to underserved borrowers.
What is the National Housing Resource Center (NHRC) doing to reverse this course? NHRC is working with hundreds of housing counseling groups, networks, and Intermediaries across the country to raise the HUD Housing Counseling Assistance to $65 million in the FY 2020 budget.
- A letter to Congress with 363 housing groups signed-on, calling for $65 million for FY 2020 housing counseling funding.
- A housing counseling information sheet
In the House, Rep. Dan Kildee circulated a Dear Colleague letter, signed by 110 Representatives, and in the Senate, Sen. Bob Menendez circulated a Dear Colleague, signed by 31 Senators; and both letters called for $65 million in HUD housing counseling funding.
What can you do? Certainly, if you are speaking or writing to House and Senate members or staff, including HUD housing counseling funding at $65 million is very valuable.
Please feel free to contact Melody Imoh (firstname.lastname@example.org), who is heading up our campaign, and me (email@example.com) if you have any Congressional contact on the issue or have fresh ideas on how we can elevate this issue.
See, e.g., Neil S. Mayer & Kenneth Temkin, Pre-Purchase Counseling Impacts on Mortgage Performance: Empirical Analysis of NeighborWorks America’s Experience (p. iii) (March 7, 2013); Marvin M. Smith et al., The Effectiveness of Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling and Financial Management Skills (April 2014).
[ii] Responding to a Crisis, NFMC 2008-2018, A Capstone Evaluation, NeighborWorks America.