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Lee Jones
(206) 220-5356
or (804) 363-7018 (cell)

www.hud.gov/washington
For Release
Wednesday
October 14, 2009

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HUD AWARDS ALMOST $300,000 IN HOUSING COUNSELING GRANTS TO HELP WASHINGTON STATE FAMILIES "SECURE THEIR FUTURES"
Washington State grants part of $60 million in HUD funding critical to prevent foreclosure

SEATTLE - Washington State families facing foreclosure, seeking affordable rental housing, or hoping to buy their first home will have a greater opportunity to find housing, or keep the homes they have, because of $297,235 in housing counseling grants announced today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Solid Ground of Seattle will receive $49,402, the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program will receive $49,716, the Community Housing Resource Center of Vancouver will receive $32,236, and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission will receive $166,881 to provide counseling to help Washington families "navigate" the homebuying and homeowning processes. Last year HUD awarded $207,366 to housing counseling agencies in Washington.

"Now, more than ever, it is crucial that Americans understand how to manage their money, navigate the homebuying process, and secure their financial future." said Donovan. "This critical funding will help counseling organizations continue to assist families in making more informed choices before they buy a home and counsel families facing foreclosure."

Housing counseling grants will assist families in becoming first-time homeowners and remaining homeowners after their purchase. HUD-approved counseling agencies not only provide homeownership counseling, but also offer financial literacy training to renters and homeless individuals and families.

The funding announced today is part of $60 million in housing counseling grants awarded nationwide. These grants will support the direct provision of housing counseling services by 24 national and regional organizations, 5 multi-state organizations, and 463 state and local housing counseling agencies. In addition, HUD is awarding $5 million to three national organizations to train approximately 4,400 counselors who will receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs.

National and regional agencies distribute much of HUD's housing counseling grant funding to community-based grassroots organizations that provide advice and guidance to low- and moderate-income families seeking to improve their housing conditions. In addition, these larger organizations help improve the quality of housing counseling services and enhance coordination among other counseling providers.

Counseling agencies will use $8 million to help assist senior citizens seeking reverse mortgages or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM). These agencies will provide counseling for the rapidly growing number of elderly homeowners who seek to convert equity in their homes into income that can be used to pay for home improvements, medical costs, and other living expenses.

The organizations that provide housing counseling services help 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. Grant recipients also help homebuyers and homeowners realistically evaluate their readiness for a home purchase, understand their financing and downpayment options, and navigate what can be an extremely confusing and difficult process.

In addition, grantees help combat predatory lending by helping unwary borrowers review their loan documentation, and avoid unreasonably high interest rates, inflated appraisals, unaffordable repayment terms, and other conditions that can result in a loss of equity, increased debt, default, and even foreclosure. Likewise, foreclosure prevention counseling helps homeowners facing delinquency or default employ strategies, including expense reduction, negotiation with lenders and loan servicers, and loss mitigation, to avoid foreclosure. With foreclosures at critical levels nationwide, these services are more important than ever.

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 biennial performance reviews to maintain their HUD-approved status.


GRANT SUMMARIES

Solid Ground Washington
Seattle, Washington
$35,732 – Comprehensive Counseling
$12,670 - HECM Counseling

As a leader in King County's continuum of housing services, Solid Ground provides housing advocacy for people at imminent risk of foreclosure or eviction through its Housing Stability Project and Housing Counseling programs. Solid Ground Washington provides comprehensive housing counseling, including mortgage delinquency and default, reverse mortgage, rental, and shelter and services for the homeless. They also provide educational workshops for groups on mortgage default, predatory lending, tenant and fair housing, pre-rental, and shelter or services for the homeless. Solid Ground Washington plans to serve 476 housing counseling clients with the HUD grants.

Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC)
Seattle, WA
$136,881- Comprehensive Counseling
$30,000 - Loan Document Review Counseling

The Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC), a state housing finance agency, has administered a statewide housing counseling and homebuyer education program since 1998. WSHFC will partner with 22 non-profit affiliates and local housing authorities to administer a comprehensive housing counseling program. WSHFC will provide one-on-one pre-purchase counseling, mortgage delinquency/default counseling, reverse equity mortgage (HECM) counseling, post purchase counseling and homebuyer education classes. The Commission sponsors over 800 first-time homebuyer education seminars throughout the state each year.

Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs (SNAP)
Spokane, WA
$49,716 – Comprehensive Counseling

Spokane Neighborhood Action Program (SNAP) was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1986, and offers comprehensive housing counseling services. Its mission is providing access to resources which create opportunities for low income and highly vulnerable persons while preserving their dignity and encouraging self sufficiency. For more than 40 years, SNAP has provided counseling services to over 14,000 individuals annually from 30 different programs and five branch offices in Spokane County. The agency provides comprehensive housing counseling that includes pre/post-purchase, mortgage delinquency/default, homebuyer education and HECM. SNAP also provides financial assistance, individual development savings accounts for down payments, energy assistance, housing rehabilitation and family homeless shelter programs.

Community Housing Resource Center
Vancouver, WA
$32,236 – Comprehensive Counseling

Community Housing Resource Center (CHRC) is a non-profit organization that has been providing housing counseling services for 14 years to more than 20,000 families. Their mission is to provide quality education and counseling services to increase opportunities and access to community resources for people who strive to create financial security, housing stability or homeownership for themselves and their families, thereby creating a vital and stronger community. The agency is located in Clark County and serves the entire seven county Portland metropolitan area. They provide the following housing counseling services: pre-purchase delinquency/default counseling, non-delinquency post-purchase, reverse mortgage, rental, and homeless one-on-one counseling. The Agency also provides homebuyer, post-purchase and fair housing education.

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HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to sustaining homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development ad enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.

 
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