Can you believe it? NHRC is nine years old! It seems like only yesterday that NHRC was a brand-new baby and look where we are now. It has been quite a year: We pushed for $100 Million in new funding for housing counseling in the American Rescue Plan, which is now the Housing Stability Counseling Program administered by NeighborWorks America. No final number on the FY 2022 budget yet, but the House has put us in for the full $100 million for the HUD Housing Counseling assistance that we requested. We continue to encourage the Senate to do the same. Our contributions to Maxine Waters’ staff and the Black Homeownership Collaborative are paying off with the likely inclusion of a first-generation homebuyer down payment assistance program in the latest budget reconciliation bill. We should know shortly. We continue to advocate for the Eviction Crisis Act, the Disaster Recovery Act, and Housing Financial Literacy Act, along with a role for housing counseling in these bills. We have kept the pace up on our Leaders in Housing Counseling calls; the latest on eviction protection, forbearance, and foreclosure prevention, manufactured housing, thinking about systemic racism, student loans, Black and Brown homeownership preservation, and more. We have pivoted our outreach work with local housing counseling agencies to do virtual events on home buying and homeowner preservation. We continue to progress on standardizing housing counseling data fields, so our work can communicate electronically with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, lenders, servicers, and HUD (shout out to David Young on his leadership). Our significant discount for Credit Reports for NHRC members and the SAVI student loan program continues. We are making the voices of housing counseling heard in the public arena and [...]
Compensation: $55,000 to $60,000 Annually Benefits Offered: 401K, Dental, Medical, Vision Employment Type: Full-Time Reports to: Executive Director FLSA Status: Exempt Prepared Date: July 26, 2021 Click HERE to Apply. POSITION SUMMARY: The Housing Policy Director will lobby in Congress on housing issues, develop policy positions, and work with housing counseling agencies and housing advocates. This job is a high-impact position with national significance, which will require resourcefulness and initiative. The National Housing Resource Center (NHRC) is an advocacy organization, providing leadership for the nonprofit housing counseling community and the clients they serve. NHRC brings together the many parts of the housing counseling community to be an effective advocacy voice in policymaking and program design. Housing counseling agencies are working to increase homeownership, prevent foreclosures, and assist underserved communities. Employees will impact and develop national housing policy, working with Congress, HUD, Treasury, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and leading housing advocates. The Housing Policy Director is an exempt position. Exempt employees are expected to work the appropriate and necessary time to complete key assignments and related tasks on schedule. ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: Develop policy positions for NHRC which represent the interests of the Hnonprofit housing counseling community and the people they serve Work with local agencies, state networks, and national organizations to identify issues and develop consensus positions on policy issues Write policy briefs and position papers for use by policymakers and member organizations Communicate with Congressional offices on policy issues Convene and participate in conference calls and meetings on policy issues Provide appropriate content for the NHRC website, listserve, and all other NHRC outlets Represent NHRC at public meetings, conference calls, and electronic discussion forums Develop the reputation of housing counseling [...]
Your support is NEEDED! Chairwoman Maxine Waters, head of the House Financial Services Committee, is asking for endorsers for her three major housing bills. Please consider if your organization wants to provide an endorsement for each of these significant bills. A strong showing by the housing counseling community is helpful. Our deadline is 2:00pm EST on July 16, 2021. Downpayment Towards Equity: This is a $10 billion commitment to First Time Homebuyer and First Generation homebuyers. Grants of up to $20,000 and for socially and economically disadvantaged an extra $5,000. Housing counseling is required for most of the grants. This is the bill we have been working on and a major goal of the Black Homeownership Collaborative. Your agency endorsement can be entered here. Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021: This bill provides significant funding for a mix of federal affordable construction, rehabilitation, and preservation programs, including additional CDBG funding for localities. It also creates a national infrastructure bank. A summary of the bill is here. Your agency endorsement can be entered here. The Endling Homelessness Act of 2021: This bill phases in a universal Section 8 rental voucher program, which would mean that every low-income people person that needed it would get a subsidized, affordable rent (currently on a quarter do). A summary of the ambitious bill is here. Your agency endorsement for this bill can be entered here. Email me if there are questions. Thanks in advance for all your help. -Bruce Bruce Dorpalen National Housing Resource Center firstname.lastname@example.org (267) 773-7210
On July 1, 2021, Ellie Pepper was promoted as the Deputy Director of the National Housing Resource Center (NHRC). Ellie has been working for 30 years on issues related to disenfranchised communities and affordable housing. At NHRC, Ellie has enthusiastically jumped into our work developing our outreach programs to reach underserved homebuyers and homeowners, convened our Leaders in Housing Counseling calls, guided many conversations for protecting first-time homebuyers in today’s market, crafted COVID-19 resilience strategies, monitored and publicized the effectiveness of mortgage forbearance, and much more. Ellie has worked with many of you to bring your experiences and your concerns forward. Join us in congratulating Ellie on a job well done! We look forward to all of the amazing work you will do in the days to come!
As we look forward to recognizing National Homeownership Month this year (June 2021), we cannot ignore the issues that plague potential first-time homebuyers across the country. First-time homebuyers of modest means who need a mortgage to purchase a home face stiff competition from cash buyers and well-funded investors in the current market and are being blocked from achieving homeownership in many ways. The National Association of Realtors reported in April 2021 that 25% of all home sales were all-cash deals, which has increased from 15% reported in 2020. Investors and cash buyers are pushing consumers with a modest income and owner-occupant buyers out of the market. This disproportionately impacts buyers of color and first-time homebuyers. By purchasing moderately priced homes through all-cash deals, buyers are artificially inflating the real estate market and aiding in gentrification in many neighborhoods across the country. Investors are also turning owner-occupied single-family homes into non-owner-occupied rentals which diminish the sense of community many first-time homebuyers look for when seeking their dream home. These issues are hitting all over the U.S. in both rural and urban areas. Housing counselors and advocates for affordable housing began raising the alarm about this issue in early 2020. Real estate agents were telling homebuyers to waive property inspections and even appraisal contingencies to be competitive. Buyers were told that cash offers with quick turnaround were beating out their offers (sometimes even for lower amounts). Private equity companies were bidding up single-family home prices to switch homes to long-term rentals – fueled by Wall Street investors. On behalf of American for Financial Reform, National Housing Resource Center (NHRC) convened a working group that identified five specific areas to address: Incentives for selling to first-time buyers/owner-occupants Amassing [...]
Black homeownership has plummeted since the Great Recession. Systemic racism, equity stripping, and a significant loss of affordable housing are just a few reasons for this declination in Black homeowners throughout the US. The National Housing Resource Center has joined with the National Housing Conference, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the National Fair Housing Alliance many other organizations working collaboratively through the Black Homeownership Collaborative to ensure that there are 3 million new Black homeowners by the year 2030. To do this, a 7-point plan has been devised that will address several key areas that have caused Black homeownership to continually plummet since the end of the Great Recession. Over one hundred housing leaders that span the political spectrum in areas of housing advocacy and industry recommend seven “tangible, actionable, and scalable” steps that will aid in addressing the gap in housing disparities between Black and white homeowners. As this is just the beginning in bringing Black homeownership to “levels never previously attained”, they are assured that these steps will lead to new strategies as this plan unfolds. The National Housing Resource Center (NHRC), HomeFree-USA, and NeighborWorks America co-chaired the Downpayment Assistance and the Housing Counseling Workstreams. To read this plan in detail, click here. Homeownership Counseling – Providing homeownership counseling helps to close the gap in many of these areas by getting much-needed information to would be Black homebuyers. The plan calls for sustained funding for housing counseling and strategies to get homebuyers and homeowners to housing counseling programs early in the process. Downpayment Assistance – Discriminatory housing policies and growing racial wealth gaps play a major role in many Black and Brown families not having much needed resources to save for [...]
National Housing Resource Center was instrumental in ensuring that the Biden Administration include funding for housing counseling in the American Rescue Plan Act. We are incredibly happy that $100 million was added because of our advocacy and that the funds were designated to flow through NeighborWorks America as was done with the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program during the financial crisis. While the NFMC program was incredibly helpful and made it possible for housing counseling agencies to build capacity and meet the needs of consumers, there were lessons housing counselors learned which could strengthen new programs. We convened a working group of thirty-eight (38) housing counseling leaders to discuss best practices from the NFMC program and review what needed to be done differently. As a result, we were able to submit a comprehensive list of proposals to NeighborWorks America for the design of the Covid-19 Housing Counseling Funding. The full list of proposals can be found here. Below are a few key highlights. A program can only be properly distributed with adequate administration. This is also true with distributing housing counseling services to any community. The working group believes that there should be adequate support for administrative costs to both subgrantees and intermediaries. NeighborWorks America should prioritize direct funding to agencies for the services they provide over funding for program research and staff training for the first $100 million. We strongly support analytic reviews of the work and staff training but suggest that funding for this comes from later COVID 19 funding. Agencies need funding now to expand capacity and deliver services to consumers in need. The working group recognized that smaller agencies would receive lower funding allocations even though their capacity building may [...]
The impact of COVID-19 has reached many across our nation in various ways. As we are entering the second year of this pandemic, many Americans are faced with the possibility of homelessness. The loss of jobs and reduction of hours available to work makes it impossible to meet the demands of paying rent. This has a domino effect. Landlords also fall into this downward spiral as rent not only helps them to maintain their properties but also provides the capital needed to pay their mortgage and provide for their own families. There have been $300 billion in emergency funds given to various housing programs to provide “direct rental assistance” to those in need in hopes of preventing eviction. Within these agencies, Housing Counselors have been identified as a much-needed resource in disseminating these funds. Typically, housing counselors assist homeowners who faced foreclosure and future homeowners in the home buying process. Since COVID-19, housing counselors have had to include tenant assistance in their work. Although housing counselors are a needed resource in connecting renters with the help required to prevent eviction, there are not enough funds available to assist groups to hire and train new counselors to help meet the growing need. The question now becomes, “how do we as a nation create the capacity to help more Americans get the help they need.” This week, The Urban Institute (Urban), a research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities, published a brief entitled "Housing Counseling to Support Renters in Crisis." In this brief, Urban reached out to 18 leaders from several housing counseling agencies and the National Housing Resource Center and asked the following questions: How has housing counseling adapted [...]
In 2017, Deutsche Bank received orders to enter a significant settlement with the Department of Justice for misleading investors in its sale of residential mortgage-backed securities. Under the consumer relief portion of this settlement, Deutsche Bank was required to sponsor three housing outreach events each year for a three-year term. National Housing Resource Center (NHRC) saw an opportunity to help housing counseling agencies spread the word on the services they provide and submitted a proposal that Deutsche Bank chose to use for eight outreach events. These events were scheduled to take place in markets in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, Inland Empire (Southern California), Phoenix, St. Louis, Memphis, and Newark. The events targeted Black and Brown homebuyers and homeowners. DESIGN & FLOW The model NHRC developed was designed to have events planned by and for housing counselors. The goal was to ensure that attendees learned the value of meeting with a HUD-approved housing counselor prior to making any home purchasing decision. With that in mind, each event followed a basic outline: Attendees first sat down with a housing counselor for a brief discussion, where they received general information about the services they provide. Attendees can work with a counselor after the event for in-depth housing counseling and an action plan to meet their personal housing goals. At three events, loss mitigation counseling was offered alongside pre-purchase counseling. After meeting with a counselor, attendees could take advantage of workshops about the homebuying process, how to build credit, and local down payment assistance programs available. Next, attendees could get a free credit report with a FICO score from at least one Credit Bureau. Lastly, attendees had the opportunity to visit vendors from banking, real estate, housing development, and social [...]
In every mortgage crisis, communication with mortgage servicers is critical. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and mortgage payment forbearance was enacted by Congress, NHRC moved to improve communication between mortgage servicers, homeowners and housing counselors. We have assembled a directory of mortgage servicer telephone lines and online intake portals for homeowners to reach their servicer directly. The consumer servicer directory is available here and we update it regularly. We also have a second directory for housing counselors with servicer communication channels exclusively for counselors along with escalation lines for counselors to solve problems with servicers. This counselor directory is only available for counselors with HUD approved housing counseling agencies. It is on our website, and is password protected, so that only housing counselors will have access. As a result, servicers will know they are working with a professional housing counselor with training in delinquency counseling. And the communication channels will not be overwhelmed by users. Counselors will have written permission from homeowners to share information and discuss their cases with mortgage servicers. Thirty-four mortgage servicers participate in the directory and early reviews have been very positive. Creating the directory prompted several major servicers to establish counselor hotlines and dedicated staff to facilitate resolutions. The HUD Office of Housing Counseling, HopeNow, and the Housing Policy Council provided valuable help in assembling these lists. We will continue to update these directories. If you have any additions or corrections, please send them to Ellie Pepper at email@example.com. And for counselors, please share your experiences with the directory, so that we know what is working and what needs improvement.
On Tuesday, September 1, the Centers for Disease Control an unprecedented action and issued a national moratorium on most evictions for nonpayment of rent. The moratorium takes effect September 4th, 2020. The CDC declared the moratorium to ensure that renters can practice social distancing and remain in compliance with stay at home orders in their states during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Prior to this action, many state level moratoriums were about to expire. Please note, the moratorium does not cancel or cover back rent, utilities or fees. It also does not provide emergency assistance for housing. The moratorium only postpones evictions. A few details about the action; to be covered under the moratorium: Renters must sign and provide to their landlord a declaration stating they have used their best efforts to obtain rental assistance. Tenants cannot earn no more $99,000 in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing jointly), was not required to report income in 2019 to the IRS or have received an Economic Impact Payment under the CARES Act. Tenants must be unable to pay full rent or make a full rent payment due to loss of income, work hours or medical costs, and must be trying to make partial rent payments. Tenants would be at risk of an eviction would face homelessness or forced to join other households. The moratorium goes through December 31, 2020. You may find the eviction moratorium form to submit to landlords here: https://www.hsgcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/declaration-form.pdf This action may help some tenants; however, it does not go far enough. Congress must act and pass legislation that provides robust stimulus funding for Covid-19 relief for homeowners, tenants, communities and those at risk or experiencing homelessness. This summer, NHRC worked closely with [...]
Everything is changing so quickly these days, especially for homeowners and tenants. Homeowners are confused about what is available to help them with their mortgage, renters don’t know if they can be evicted, and advocates want to know how current policies are impacting the most vulnerable consumers. Unfortunately, up to the minute data just isn’t available as quickly as needed to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. At NHRC, we know HUD approved housing counselors are seeing this play out on a day to day basis with consumers they are trying to help. In order to inform advocates and policy makers, we created a short survey asking housing counselors a few questions about what they are seeing and hearing from their clients. With responses from housing counselors from across the country, a few key pieces of data have become clear: 90% of counselors reported hearing from delinquent borrowers who have not chosen to enter forbearance. The top three reasons counselors hear: Fear of lump sum repayment Did not know they could get a forbearance Not able to get through to their servicer 70% report concerns about effective communication between homeowners and servicers. This lack of effective communication made housing counselors hesitant to support automatic forbearance for those that are delinquent. (As a policy matter, NHRC supports automatic forbearance for borrowers who are 60 day delinquent and not communicating with their servicer; because the alternative is initiating foreclosure with the increased costs and possibility of losing their home during the COVID-19 crisis.) 75% report hearing from tenants that need assistance with rent and/or have questions about their rights. The information gathered in this survey has been useful in alerting advocates, policy makers, [...]
HUD Secretary Ben Carson Extends Critical Deadline for Housing Counseling Organizations at Risk of Losing Funding
On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published its Interim Final Rule on its website to announce a delay in the deadline for housing counselors to become HUD certified. The pause is meant to ensure that vital housing counseling services remain available to the nation’s homebuyers and renters, particularly those who need housing and mortgage assistance to recover financially from the effects of the COVID-19 emergency. The Interim Final Rule will be subsequently published for comment in the Federal Register. This effort was led by many advocates and stakeholders, including Senator Tina Smith. U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) says that Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson heeded her call to extend the August 1, 2020 deadline for housing counselor certification for HUD’s Housing Counseling Assistance Program by at least one year. Smith led a group of Senators in pressing Secretary Carson for this extension so that counseling agencies can continue to get members of their organization certified. Many agencies would have been unable to complete this process before August 1 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and therefore risked losing HUD funding. “I fought for this extension to prevent a disruption in the delivery of housing counseling services in communities across the country,” said Sen. Smith. “These services are important, and will be in greater demand as temporary protections for homeowners and renters expire. It is vital that community organizations receive the resources necessary to help households maintain stable housing.” -- Senator Tina Smith The Senators who signed the letter are: Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) Senator Amy [...]
On July 16, House Financial Services Committee held a virtual hearing, entitled Protecting Homeowners During the Pandemic: Oversight of Mortgage Servicers' Implementation of the CARES Act within the Subcommitee on Oversight and Investigations. One of the witnesses, Marcia Griffin, is the Founder and President of HomeFree-USA, and one of NHRC's national partners in housing counseling advocacy. She made the case before the subcommittee on the issues that housing counselors are seeing in CARES Act-related mortgage servicing during these early stages of economic impacts of the Covid-19 Pandmeic. Below is an excerpt from her testimony. Today, about 4.2M homeowners, or roughly 9 percent of all homeowners are in some form of mortgage forbearance or CARES Act payment forbearance. While new forbearances are leveling off, we anticipate a modest increase once unemployment benefits run out which would cause the percentage to tick closer to 11 percent. Assuming one out of 10 homeowners need more advice and help in setting up repayment terms, the housing counseling industry needs at least $220M for one year and $700 million for a full program to address the needs of housing consumers in this crisis. NHRC is grateful that partners like HomeFree-USA are making the case for funding. Congress is still in talks around a Phase 4 Stimulus Package to address Covid-19 and we are advocating for any package to include funding for housing counseling assistance. You may read Marcia's testimony HERE. We are still advocating for S. 4098, the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act, sponsored by Senators Brown(D-OH) and Menendez(D-NJ). This legislation would provide for $700 million for Housing Counseling Assistance during the pandemic. The Heroes Act, passed by the House, would provide for $100 million for Housing Counseling Assistance. NHRC [...]
On June 29, Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and Banking Committee Ranking Member Brown (D-OH) introduced the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act, S. 4098. The Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act would provide $700 million for NeighborWorks to support housing counseling services to help homeowners, renters, people experiencing homelessness, and people at risk of homelessness navigate their housing options and rights during the COVID-19 crisis, including protections and resources provided through COVID-19 relief legislation. The legislation also requires that no less than 40 percent of the $700 million fund is targeted to counseling organizations that serve minority and low-income homeowners and renters. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.),Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D.N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Mark Warner (D-Vir.). “Millions of families across our country – already suffering through job and income loss -- are now living in fear that in a matter of weeks or months, they will be facing down foreclosure, eviction and even homelessness,” said Sen. Menendez. “Knowledge is power. Along with fighting for more federal assistance and protections – we’ve got to expand access to housing counseling so that these individuals and families can get help in finding affordable ways to stay in their homes.” “Losing a home to foreclosure or eviction turns a family’s life upside down,” said Sen. Brown. “During a pandemic, it also puts their health at risk. Providing vital funding to housing counselors will ensure that homeowners and renters – especially Black and brown homeowners and renters who have been hardest hit by this pandemic – have [...]