NHRC, working with seven local housing counseling groups, held a homebuyer event in Tampa Bay, Florida. Over 300 people crowded into the meeting rooms. This is the second in a series of events to reach underserved, potential homebuyers.
Our goals with these events are:
convene a successful, well attended local event in conjunction with leading local housing counseling agencies;
expand the outreach technologies to reach underserved populations, especially through social media (Facebook is rocking it!);
develop and improve the homebuyer events model to make housing counselors the first stop and primary focus for attendees to help them meet their housing goals;
share the learnings with the housing counseling community, so that more groups can use these methods.
This is part of a series of housing counseling events NHRC is doing jointly with HomeFree-USA, National Urban League, National CAPACD, and UnidosUS. The events are sponsored by Deutsche Bank. Our first event was in Chicago last fall.
The local Tampa Bay groups who made this a success were:
|Housing and Education Alliance,
|Neighborhood Home Solutions,
|CLEARWATER NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSING SERVICES, INC.,
|SOLITA’S HOUSE INC.,
|CORPORATION TO DEVELOP COMMUNITIES OF TAMPA,
|Tampa Bay Community Development Corporation,
|Bright Community Trust
Eighty housing leaders and supporters crowded into the Realtors top-floor meeting room with a spectacular view of the Capitol building on July 26th and 27th for our national Leaders in Housing Counseling Meeting.
Some of the highlights you should know about:
We had an encouraging discussion with Adolfo Marzol, Special Assistant to the Secretary at HUD. We proposed discussions with HUD over the next year on how to increase homeownership opportunities and strengthen the FHA mortgage insurance fund by:
- Increasing public awareness of housing counseling with the help of HUD;
- Providing incentives to borrowers such as discounting the mortgage insurance premiums for people who complete counseling;
- Exploring greater availability of downpayment assistance;
- Referring declined FHA borrowers to counseling agencies;
- Referring delinquent borrowers to counseling;
- Exploring payments to counseling agencies for pre-purchase and delinquency counseling work, which improves the performance of the fund.
Rep. Charlie Dent and Sen. Bob Menendez received this year’s Champions of Housing Counseling awards for their work with us. Charlie Dent, a senior Appropriations member, promised to push for restoring HUD Housing Counseling back to $55 million in the final budget.
On the need to improve marketing and messaging of housing counseling, we had a deep discussion with the Creative Marketing Resources (CMR) people about the high value of housing counseling but low public recognition. They conducted mystery shopping on agencies, which found high levels of expertise and commitment, but entry into programs not always as easy as it should be. More CMR insights: financial incentives to join counseling were highly valued by consumers, call it “anything but counseling,” HUD has value as a good housekeeping seal of approval, and counseling agencies need to do more to appeal to Millennials.
After much discussion, the group decided to make a recommendation to the Office of Housing Counseling that we change the name from housing counselor to “HUD-certified housing advisor.”
We will convene a discussion on the proposed Client Management Systems to encourage greater interconnectivity and communication.
We also convened a stakeholders meeting with the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Realtors, which produced a commitment to do a new round of lender/real estate agent/counselor meetings this year and a white paper on the lessons learned on the experiences of the Cleveland, San Antonio, Richmond, CA, and Brockton, MA meetings.
And NHRC members received beautiful, hand-made batik wall-hangings made by artisans in the Gambia in Africa.
Seventy five real estate agents, lenders, and counselors packed the learning center of San Antonio’s Alamo Community Group to make a plan on increasing affordable homeownership in their city, by working with nonprofit housing counseling groups. The high energy group committed to continue meeting and to form four action committees:
- An Advocacy committee to develop policy proposals for the upcoming San Antonio Housing Summit
- An event committee to plan a homebuyer and homeowner event
- A technology committee to develop a matrix of available homeownership services and post on a publicly available website
- A committee to “get in front of” cash investors and capture affordable properties for low and moderate income homeowners by working with the cash investors.
This meeting was the second in a series of local market meetings, convened by the Mortgage Bankers Association, Realtors, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, and the National Housing Resource Center. Planning is in the works for local market events in the Boston area and Oakland/Richmond, California. And then we will have a national gathering in Washington, DC on July 26 to evaluate lessons learned and plan next steps.
Special thanks go to Alamo Community Group for making this meeting a success.
In Cleveland, we held our first joint event with Mortgage Bankers Association and the Realtors for lenders, real estate agents, and housing counselors to increase homeownership opportunities for underserved borrowers and increase the use of housing counseling in local markets.
Sixty participants attended and the group made plans for a homebuyer event, learned about downpayment assistance and housing counseling programs, and developed committees to inform more lenders and agents. This was the kick off for our campaign with the MBA and the Realtors to help increase homeownership opportunities in low and moderate income communities and in communities of color. We will plan these meetings for three more cities this spring.
A big shout out to our friends on the ground who made this happen, especially the Ohio Mortgage Bankers Association, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, ESOP, and the many lenders, agents, and counselors participating.
We made the White House!
On June 21, the White House and HUD sponsored a meeting honoring homeowners who succeeded because they worked with their housing counselors. This is part of our campaign to increase the public awareness of housing counseling. HUD Sec. Julian Castro, FHA Commissioner Ed Golding, and HUD Office of Housing Counseling Director Sarah Gerecke, housing counselors, and homeowners met at the White House. You can watch the thirty eight minute video (and see many familiar faces) here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2016/06/21/dare-own-dream
We had one homebuying family and their housing counselor come all the way from Hawaii (which explains why you can see leis on some of the participants).
In the picture, from left to right are:
- Sarah Gerecke, head of HUD Office of Housing Counseling,
- Shaun who is an active military homebuyer counseled by CEI,
- Rockea who is a Millennial homebuyer counseled by Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership,
- Kibsaim who is a Spanish speaking homebuyer counseled by Centro de Apoyo Familiar, Jodi Mobley who is the Director of Housing Programs at Nevada Partners, and
- Rose Transfiguracion who is a housing counselor with Hawaiian Community Assets.
Many thanks to the homeowners, housing counselors, HUD staff, White House staff, and supporters who helped put this together. Special thanks to Bank of America for hosting a reception in the evening before and to Ocwen for hosting a lunch after the White House event.