Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced the award of $73 million in housing counseling grants to more than 500 national, regional, and local organizations.  The grants represent an increase of $13 million or 22 percent over last year's funding.  According to HUD, the funds will permit hundreds of thousands of households a greater opportunity to find housing or keep their existing homes. 

Donovan pronounced the HUD-approved counseling agencies a critical part of the nation's housing recovery.  "These organizations are on the front lines of helping families who are desperate to remain in their homes," he said.  "Now, more than ever, it's crucial that we support these agencies that are working with struggling families on a one-to-one basis to manage their money, navigate the homebuying process, and secure their financial futures."

HUD-approved counseling agencies assist families in becoming and remaining homeowners through homeownership counseling and financial literacy training.  Renters and homeless individuals as well as potential and actual homeowners are eligible for the counseling.

In addition to the $68 million designated for direct provision of counseling services to low-and moderate- income families, this year $5 million is earmarked for training approximately 4,500 counselors.  Counseling agencies will use $9.5 million of the funds to assist senior citizens seeking reverse mortgages which allow the elderly to convert the equity in their homes into income. 

Counseling helps people become or remain homeowners or find rental housing, and assist homeless persons in finding the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live. It also helps individuals realistically evaluate their readiness for a home purchase, understand their financing and down payment options, and navigate what can be an extremely confusing and difficult process.  Grantees also help combat predatory lending by assisting borrowers in reviewing loan documentation, and avoiding potential mortgage scams, unreasonable interest rates or repayment terms, and participate in foreclosure prevention programs.

HUD awards annual grants under the housing counseling program through a competitive process. Organizations that apply for grants must be HUD-approved and are subject to performance reviews to maintain their HUD-approved status.  A complete list of grantees and awards can be viewed HERE