Things You Should Know
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Housing Counselors are professionals who are able to offer advice, listen, and help clients make informed decisions based on their financial situation and needs - often at little or no cost to the client.
While the majority of Housing Counseling services prepare clients for homeownership, the ultimate goal of housing counseling is to support individual and family housing stability.
Housing counselors assist clients with building their financial literacy skills to achieve housing stability, whether they are renting, planning to buy, or trying to prevent foreclosure. Housing counselors are trained to:
No. Service agencies can provide the same guidance and support to their clients through housing counseling without being a HUD Certified Agency (HCA). However, counselors can not utilize their HUD Housing Counseling Certification to offer Housing Counseling in conjunction with any HUD program unless they are doing so under the umbrella of a HUD HCA. Agencies that are not HUD certified are also ineligible for HUD funding resources to help cover the costs of the counseling services and may not offer their housing counseling services under or in connection to a HUD program.
HUD Certified Housing Counselors must pass an exam and pursue continuing education to be certified. In order to take the HUD Housing Counselor certification exam, a counselor must work for a certified HUD HCA. For a list of HCAs click here.
HCA's are eligible for funding resources from HUD in order to subsidize counseling services and offer services to clients at little to no cost.
No. Service agencies can provide the same guidance and support to their clients through housing counseling without being a HUD HCA. However, counselors can not utilize their HUD Housing Counseling Certification to offer Housing Counseling in conjunction with any HUD program unless they are doing so under the umbrella of a HUD HCA. Agencies that are not HUD certified are also ineligible for HUD funding resources to help cover the costs of the counseling services and may not offer their housing counseling services under or in connection to a HUD program.
For an organization to be eligible to apply to become a HUD HCA they must be either: a private or public nonprofit organization or a state or local government. (For-profit entities are not eligible to become a HUD HCA) Detailed information and additional requirements of the housing counseling program are provided in the Housing Counseling Program Handbook 7610.1 The program handbook lists the qualifying criteria that all applicants must meet to receive HUD approval. A few of the more important are:
The HUD Approval Process Overview shows the steps in becoming a HUD-approved HCA.
There are two ways to participate in HUD's Housing Counseling Program:
Agencies should use the Housing Counseling Agency Eligibility Tool to determine if they are ready to apply. The Tool allows organizations to determine if they meet the basic qualifying criteria to apply to become a HUD-approved HCA. Organizations that receive a “ready to apply” result at the end of the tool can move onto notifying HUD.
Please email HUD to schedule an appointment with an application advisor who will assist you. Please type "Appointment with HUD housing counseling application advisor" in the subject line of your email. The HUD application advisor will help explain the housing counseling program requirements, assist you with the application process and required documentation that you must submit for approval as a counseling agency.
HUD’s goal is to complete your application review within 90 days. However, if documents are incomplete, or missing from your application, or if other issues arise during the process, it could take longer. Please read these Frequently Asked Questions. Please contact your application advisor or email HUD if you have any questions.
Learn more here: Becoming a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency Learning Pathway
Note: HUD pays only part of the costs of an agency’s counseling activities, so grantees need to leverage their HUD grant with funding from other resources.
This course is designed to provide the base level of knowledge for those who wish to add housing counseling to their list of services provided to their clients. This course is beneficial to any staff in those agencies providing housing counseling to include intake personnel, counselors, financial advisors, program directors, and more. It is also a helpful refresher course for those providers who may already be offering housing counseling. This course is designed to provide the base level of knowledge for those who wish to add housing counseling to their list of services provided to their clients. This course is beneficial to any staff in those agencies providing housing counseling to include intake personnel, counselors, financial advisors, program directors, and more. It is also a helpful refresher course for those providers who may already be offering housing counseling.
Participants will learn the principles and applications of housing counseling from the industry's and the counselor's points of view to help them acquire the basic skills needed to be effective counselors. They learn the principles of effective counseling, essential elements of pre- and post-purchase counseling for homeowners, and delinquency and default counseling. They are introduced to common client issues and effective intervention strategies. Participants learn practical tools to help renters, prospective homebuyers and existing homeowners develop and manage basic household budgets, enhance their savings practices and loan payment, improve credit scores, and recognize and avoid predatory lenders.
This course will be led by a NeighborWorks trainer with live learning sessions delivered via Zoom and assignments submitted via Moodle. A week before the first live session (August 31), everyone who is registered will be sent an email with Moodle login instructions. From August 31 to September 7, participants will be encouraged to go to the course site, post an introduction, and review pre-course documents including grading policies, an overview of the course format, and other general information. There will be four 90-minute live sessions taking place at 10:00am (EST) on September 7, 14, 21 and 28th, 2023 with 2-4 hours of work per week that each participant must complete on their own and submit on Moodle.
Participants who attend all classes and earn at least an 80% on their submitted assignments will receive a certification of course completion from NeighborWorks.
NeighborWorks America creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.
NeighborWorks began in 1968 when Dorothy Richardson led her neighbors in the Central North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh to fight back against community decay. “The solution was not to tear down the whole neighborhood, but to fix the houses,” she said. From 1971-1975 the Urban Reinvestment Task Force, led by Bill Whiteside, replicated the model fostered by Dorothy Richardson, expanding the work beyond Pittsburgh to serve more cities. By 1976, the Task Force had 14 staff, and there were NeighborWorks organizations (then called Neighborhood Housing Services) in 45 cities. Today there are more than 240 NeighborWorks organizations operating in urban, suburban, and rural communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In the past 5 years NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is a leading trainer of community development, financial capability, and affordable housing professionals. NeighborWorks America has helped nearly 1.725 million homeowners through the congressionally funded National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program.
In a report published by Urban Institute, NeighborWorks training led to greater outcomes for clients:
"NeighborWorks collects and manages a large amount of unique information on homebuyers, their mortgages, and services received. Mayer and Temkin (2013) analyzed the impact of pre-purchase counseling and education provided by NeighborWorks on the performance of counseled borrowers’ mortgages. The study found a nearly one-third drop in the likelihood of serious mortgage delinquency when consumers received pre-purchase counseling and education. That research was based on approximately 75,000 mortgages originated from 2007 to 2009, when the housing crisis started to unfold and the credit box began to tighten. Of the loans in the study, 18,258 were made to clients who received pre-purchase counseling from NeighborWorks organizations at some point between October 2007 and September 2009 and who also purchased a home within this 24-month period. The other 56,298 loans were made to a comparison group of borrowers with observable characteristics similar to those of the NeighborWorks pre-purchase clients"