HUD Raises the Bar for Housing Counselors


19/12/16 10:12 AM


Author: Brian Honea in Daily Dose, Featured, News December 14, 2016

image001Housing counselors participating in HUD-approved programs must now be certified in order to offer services to consumers, according to an announcement from HUD on Wednesday.

The new certification requirements call for counselors to pass a standardized written exam and work for a HUD-approved counseling agency. Congress directed HUD to develop a standardized certification program for housing counseling in response to the crisis, in order to “increase the competency of counselors in the full range of housing issues confronting consumers.” That range of issues includes protecting consumers from scams perpetrated by operators who prey on the most vulnerable consumers, according to HUD.

“Independent research shows that consumers working with a HUD housing counseling agency have better credit, more savings, and fewer foreclosures than similar non-counseled consumers,” HUD stated in its announcement.

In order to pass the examination, housing counselors must demonstrate competence in the following areas, according to HUD:

  • financial management
  • property maintenance
  • responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy
  • fair housing laws and requirements
  • housing affordability
  • avoidance of, and responses to, rental and mortgage delinquency and avoidance of eviction and mortgage default

 

HUD is offering training and study resources in both English and Spanish to help counselors prepare for the examination. Resources available include a practice test to be made available soon. HUD said it has target Spring 2017 as the publication date for the actual certification test. The final rule will take full effect three years from the time that the certification examination is published, according to HUD.

“Once HUD’s rule is fully implemented, housing counseling required by HUD or provided in connection with any HUD program will meet common standards and will be delivered by a HUD certified counselor working for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency,” HUD stated in its announcement.

Consumers seeking assistance will then be able to search an online database managed by HUD, containing a list of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies and certified counselors.

Click here to read HUD’s final rule.

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