Homeownership Preservation Foundation and More than 445 Nonprofit Housing Counseling Agencies Nationwide Tell Congress: Restore Housing Counseling Funds
WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 8, 2011 – The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), an independent national nonprofit dedicated to helping distressed homeowners navigate financial challenges and avoid mortgage foreclosure through its Homeowner’s HOPE™ Hotline at 888-995-HOPE™, released a statement today in response to continued uncertainties over the restoration of federal funds for housing counseling, a critical component of national efforts to resolve the housing crisis.
Mandated federal budget cuts earlier this year stripped away $88 million in HUD funds that had been designated to support housing counseling programs; foreclosure counseling funding from other government sources is also at risk. Many nonprofit housing counseling agencies rely on public support to operate and offer their services to homeowners free of charge. In a letter sent to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, HPF and more than 445 of those agencies around the country jointly called for Congress to restore HUD Housing Counseling Assistance at the level of $60 million, explaining that the middle of a housing crisis is not the time to take away a crucial and trusted lifeline for homeowners.
Colleen Hernandez, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), said:
“The devastating ripples of the housing crisis have long since extended beyond the individual homeowners themselves. Foreclosures often lead to displaced families, increased health issues, neglected properties, higher crime rates, and lower local, regional, and state housing prices. Many are caught up in the wake — neighbors, communities, the country itself. As we begin to enter the second phase of the housing crisis — one where many expect to see a steep uptick in foreclosure activity — it is imperative that distressed homeowners continue to have access to trusted HUD-certified counselors, like those at HPF, who can provide them with reliable, accurate information and guidance to help them find the best way out of their personal financial quagmires. That will not likely be the case if these critical funds for housing counseling are not restored. Many reputable counseling agencies making a meaningful difference in their local communities will be forced to close.”
There are currently more than 2,700 HUD-certified housing counseling agencies that help financially distressed homeowners examine their financial health, create responsible budgets that will alleviate debt, and, where possible, identify options that will enable homeowners to prevent foreclosure and bring their mortgages back to good standing. Many, including those affiliated with the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, also provide critical information that helps homeowners avoid being victimized by mortgage scams.
Measurable and compelling data from studies conducted by independent researchers has clearly underscored the effectiveness of housing counseling services. Research confirms that housing counseling doubles the likelihood of receiving a loan modification by 200 percent and increases the odds that homeowners will be able to remain current on their payments. Hundreds of thousands of families are still in their homes and productively paying their mortgages as the result of financial education and assistance received from HUD-approved financial counselors.
Ms. Hernandez added: “There are five million Americans currently facing foreclosure and in dire need of help. Given that many economists and analysts point to the housing crisis as a driving force behind our prolonged economic downturn, the proven benefits of housing counseling, and the dismal state of our housing sector, ensuring that they get this assistance by restoring funding for housing counseling is in everybody’s best interest.”
About the Homeownership Preservation Foundation
The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) is an independent national nonprofit dedicated to helping distressed homeowners navigate financial challenges and avoid mortgage foreclosure. HPF guides consumers onto the path of sustainable homeownership and develops innovative solutions to preserve and expand homeownership. Through its Homeowner’s HOPE™ Hotline, 888-995-HOPE™, HPF provides comprehensive financial education and confidential foreclosure prevention counseling for FREE, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in over 170 languages. Since 2007, HPF has served more than five million distressed homeowners, an average of 5,500 each weekday, who depend upon HPF as a trusted, neutral source of information and assistance. For more information about the Homeownership Preservation Foundation or the Homeowner’s HOPE™ Hotline, please visit www.995hope.org