The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) has published an update to its Housing Counseling Program Handbook, the first set of comprehensive changes implemented since 2010. The update will ensure that HUD’s housing counseling program participants have access to the information needed to meet the needs of individuals and families seeking to buy, rent, or sustain their homes.
Housing counselors play a pivotal role in helping low-to-moderate income households–particularly communities of color–prepare financially for the wealth building potential of homeownership and to obtain safe, decent, and affordable housing.
“The updated Handbook will benefit those helping individuals and families with their housing needs,” said Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon. “Among other things, it includes enhanced guidance for counseling homeowners considering a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) so they can make an informed choice about options for aging in place.”
The Handbook also outlines how to become a HUD-approved housing counseling agency or HUD-certified housing counselor and details the grant application process for those seeking HUD funding for their housing counseling programs.
“We are pleased to announce the long-awaited updates to our Housing Counseling Program Handbook, and expect the information will provide much needed guidance to our partners, which will ultimately support consumers exploring their housing options,” said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing Counseling David Berenbaum.
The guidance in the Housing Counseling Program Handbook is effective beginning January 1, 2024.
HUD-approved housing counseling agencies provide services to address a full range of housing counseling needs. These services include assisting homebuyers in evaluating their readiness for a home purchase and navigating through the homebuying process, helping individuals and households find affordable rental housing, offering financial literacy training to individuals and families, and providing foreclosure prevention counseling to distressed homeowners. In addition to providing counseling to homeowners and renters, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies support emergency preparedness and disaster recovery efforts, assist homeless persons in finding transitional housing, and help seniors determine whether a HECM or other reverse mortgage makes sense for them.
Click here to view HUD’s updated Housing Counseling Program Handbook.