Four Oregon organizations win housing counseling grants

PORTLAND, OR – October 14, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Oregon 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 $191,424 in housing counseling grants announced today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (see attached list).

Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services in Corvallis will receive $60,00 to serve a projected 475 families, the Open door Housing Counseling Service in Hillsboro will receive $54,716 to serve a projected 1,236 families, the United Community Action Network in Roseburg will receive $20,000 to serve a projected 58 families and the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation in Springfield will receive $56,708 to serve a projected 600 families and help them “navigate” the homebuying and homeowning processes. (See grant summaries below). Last year, HUD awarded $141,512 to counseling agencies in Oregon.

“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

Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services Inc.
Corvallis, OR
$50,000 – Comprehensive Counseling
$10,000 – Loan Document Review Counseling
Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services (WNHS) offers a wide range of housing-related services to individuals and families in Oregon’s Linn and Benton Counties. WNHS is also a member of the NeighborWorks Network and in June 2009 became a local HUD approved counseling agency. WNHS has educated over 2,000 people and helped 620 families buy their first home. Counseling services include: pre-purchase, homebuyer education, mortgage delinquency, and financial management education. The agency is committed to improving lives and strengthening communities through quality affordable housing, homeownership, economic opportunity, and community partnerships. The agency proposes to serve 475 clients with these HUD grants.

Neighborhood Economic Development Corp. (NEDCO)
Eugene, OR
$56,708 – Comprehensive Counseling
Founded in 1979, the Neighborhood Economic Development Corp. (NEDCO) is Oregon’s first and oldest Community Development Corporation that serves the communities of Lane and Marion County in Oregon. NEDCO is committed to improving the economic well being of individuals, families and neighborhoods by offering comprehensive housing counseling services including: homebuyer education, pre-purchase counseling, post-purchase and foreclosure prevention counseling, financial literacy, and default prevention group education. For the grant period the agency projects to serve 600 clients with its housing counseling grant.

Open Door Counseling Center
Hillsboro, OR
$49,716 – Comprehensive Counseling
$5,000 – HECM Counseling
Open Door Counseling Center (ODCC), established in 1984, is a HUD approved housing counseling agency in Washington County, Oregon. The agency’s mission statement includes facilitating client success by providing clients with permanent housing opportunities through structured programs. ODCC provides clients with case management and counseling for many of the problems that lead to homelessness, as well as providing pre-purchase counseling, rental counseling, mortgage foreclosure prevention counseling, and reverse mortgage counseling. During FY 2010, the agency plans to serve 1,236 clients with its comprehensive and HECM housing counseling grants. http://www.opendoorcc.net

United Community Action Network (UCAN)
Roseburg, OR
$20,000 – Comprehensive Counseling
The United Community Action Network (UCAN) is a social services agency dedicated to serving low-income families in the communities of Douglas and Josephine County, Oregon. Founded in 1969, the non-profit agency offers comprehensive housing counseling services, including: mortgage default counseling, home repair, landlord/tenant issues and first time homebuyer counseling. UCAN’s mission is to create solutions to poverty and improve lives through the operation of its five (5) programs: Food Bank (county-wide food sufficiency distribution center), Adult and Child Care Food Program, Head Start, Transitions Program (skills building for low income women), Case Management-Housing and Emergency Support Services. The agency projects to serve 58 clients through its housing counseling grant.

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HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; 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 and 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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