Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
HUD Kicks Off Six-City Financial Literacy Campaign
Program will help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure and rescue-scams
NEW YORK - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston today announced HUD's latest effort to prevent foreclosure by launching an aggressive consumer education campaign in six cities. HUD's "Keep Your Home. Know Your Loan." campaign will kick off in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Phoenix. Preston launched the public awareness initiative at Neighborhood Housing Services, a New York City agency that offers clients free mortgage delinquency and default resolution counseling.
HUD's financial literacy campaign builds on the Department's continuing commitment to support its 2,600 housing counseling agencies across the country. In 2008, demand for HUD-approved counseling increased significantly. Meanwhile, the number of foreclosure rescue scams has also increased in response to the nation's housing crisis.
"This campaign is a call to action for families at risk of losing their homes," said Preston. "We want people to pick up the phone and call a HUD-approved housing counseling agency before they reach a point of no return. Keeping your home may be as easy as dialing 877-HUD-1515."
Many troubled homeowners seek help late in their financial crisis thereby limiting their loan modification options. HUD's campaign will target homeowners who are three-to-six months from defaulting on their mortgage, facing a reset on their adjustable-rate mortgage, or are experiencing a family crisis such as unemployment or skyrocketing health care costs in 2009.
The "Keep Your Home. Know Your Loan." campaign will include print, radio and television public service announcements, as well as a tool kit for non-profit counseling agencies that will support the effort. In each PSA, consumers are directed to call HUD's toll-free counseling hotline (877-HUD-1515) to arrange free face-to-face meetings with a counselor near them. Since most HUD-approved counseling agencies lack the resources for marketing and outreach, the Department is launching this campaign to help consumers earlier in their financial crisis and to fight the explosion of "pay-to-play" loan modification scams.
HUD's support for housing counseling agencies has grown significantly, from $20 million in 2001 to $50 million in 2008. In addition, federal support has now grown exponentially with $360 million in additional funds in 2008 specifically for foreclosure prevention counseling. HUD has requested another $65 million to support local housing counseling agencies in FY 2009.
Research finds HUD-approved housing counseling is effective to prevent foreclosure. A recent HUD study noted a 55 percent increase in the number of clients receiving foreclosure prevention counseling between 2006 and 2007. Of the approximately 136,000 families that completed this counseling during 2007, 45 percent were able to remain in their homes while 14 percent ultimately lost their home through foreclosure. This report also found that in the years leading up to the current crisis, more than 55 percent of low-income families seeking to buy their first home did not seek out pre-purchase counseling. This lack of counseling likely left them unprepared to make one of the biggest financial commitments of their lives and may have contributed to some of today's high rates of default and foreclosure.