Dear Chairwoman DeLauro, Ranking Member Granger, Chairman Price and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart:
As you finalize the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriation bill, we urge you to support the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department's (HUD's) Housing Counseling Assistance Program at the House appropriated $100 million funding level.
This essential program supports high quality, independent non-profit housing counselors who work directly with consumers to assist with housing challenges brought on by the pandemic and empower families to make informed financial decisions regarding homeownership and renting.
We are concerned that the Senate THUD FY 2022 appropriations bill only provides $57.5 million for the Housing Counseling Assistance Program, which is flat with present funding levels. Given the challenges consumers are facing--and a demand for housing counseling that far outpaces current resources--this level is insufficient to build upon the program and support the millions of families who rely on its services.
The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted many renters and homeowners, jeopardizing the housing security of millions of working families. Housing counselors have played an important role in empowering renters and homeowners with the financial, budgetary and money management advice that has helped workers secure affordable housing, modify loans on more favorable terms and find alternatives to eviction and foreclosure.
Years of research show customers who work with housing counselors fare significantly better than similar customers who do not receive counseling. Consumers who work with a housing counselor are more likely to keep up on their mortgage payments, avoid foreclosure, improve their credit scores and increase their family's savings.
Housing counseling organizations are also well-situated to address challenges to housing equity, like the growing homeownership gap between white and black families. According to the Urban Institute, the white-black homeownership gap is wider now than before the Fair Housing Act was signed in 1968. Housing counselors can play a role in narrowing this gap as they help families secure affordable housing, purchase their first home and find alternatives to eviction and foreclosure. Pre-purchase counseling, especially, enables families to improve their credit score, increase their savings and explore mortgage options--helping families achieve their piece of the American Dream.
HUD's Housing Counseling Assistance Program is one of the most effective and cost-efficient solutions that the federal government uses to help homeowners and renters. It is crucial we strengthen this program as we recover from the pandemic and build back our economy.
We urge you to prioritize funding for HUD Housing Counseling Assistance by including $100 million for this essential program. Thank you for considering this request. The millions of families that benefit from housing counseling hope to count on your support in this important work.