Florida Housing Counselor Network Members presenting at the Housing Counseling Forum convened by the Florida Housing Coalition on 8/29/22
Michele Hartson and Russell Graves were asked to provide an overview of information about the DEO Housing Assistance Fund including details about the application the Network in partnership with The National Foundation for Debt Management submitted to DEO for housing counseling funding for HCAs.
Carolyn Norris - Benefits of Counseling
Daily, HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies have to adroitly balance counseling practices to address the needs of the communities they serve by applying logic, mortgage and rental industry standards, and even emotional support. It is extremely important for Housing Counselors to effectively work within the confines of gaining confidence and trust of distressed homeowners facing foreclosure and prospective home buyers in order to analyze personal finances and find solutions. And, yes, most times we find solutions. Through the years, members of the Florida Housing Counseling Network (FHCN) have successfully assisted hundreds of thousands Florida residents achieve successful outcomes under various programs, i.e., Cares Act, Florida Hardest Hit, Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), Foreclosure Counseling Program (FCP), and State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Down Payment Program. The individual counseling component of these programs allows Agencies to “work their magic” when budget and credit management counseling are administered. According to a 2016 study, “Housing Counseling Works,” issued by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “counseled clients were 2.83 times more likely to receive a loan modification and were 70% less likely to re-default than borrowers who were not counseled. Additionally, the study disclosed that participants “receiving prepurchase education meeting HUD standards had 42% lower odds of foreclosure.” Proof positive, let us acknowledge the impact Housing Counseling has when Agencies “work their magic” with the beneficiaries of financial literacy and coaching programs.
This grant will support the delivery of critically needed housing counseling services to households facing instability such as eviction, default, foreclosure, or loss of income due to COVID–19.
“I was honored to step in, with FHCN’s invaluable assistance, to leverage National Foundation for Debt Management intermediary status, and secure funds through the NeighborWorks Housing Stability Program to benefit FHCN’s members. The funds secured -- $1.4 million – will help member agencies better meet counseling and housing demands of Florida’s residents affected by COVID-19.” – Russell Graves, President, National Foundation for Debt Management.
The Florida Housing Counselor Network (FHCN) identified agencies with HUD certified housing counselors that could provide geographic coverage of the entire state. In addition to NFDM the following agencies will receive money to support services in their geographic area: Affordable Homeownership Foundation, Inc., Community Enterprise Investments, Consolidated Credit Solutions, Inc, Crisis Housing Solutions, H.E.L.P. Community Development Corp, Housing Development Corp of SW Florida, Inc, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Real Estate and Community Housing, Solita’s House, and the National Foundation for Debt Management.
"Foreclosure funding was depleted in 2019 with the end of the Florida Foreclosure Counseling and Hardest Hit Programs. When the pandemic happened in early 2020, many homeowners lost income and began to struggle to make their mortgage payments. Most housing counseling agencies did not have funding to provide foreclosure prevention counseling to these families. The $1.4 million will allow 10 Network Member housing counseling agencies to provide essential housing counseling services to some of the homeowners negatively impacted by Covid-19." -- Marissa Vetter, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and Chair of FHCN.
About NeighborWorks America
NeighborWorks America's mission is to create opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. More information about NeighborWorks America and its programs is available on the Internet at www.neighborworks.org
About The Florida Housing Counselor Network
The Florida Housing Counselor Network is the collective voice and advocate for housing counselors and counseling agencies in Florida. www.flcounselors.org
About The National Foundation for Debt Management
Consumer Credit and Budget Counseling d/b/a National Foundation for Debt Management is a non-profit nationwide Credit Counseling Agency and a Premier Multi-State HUD housing counseling agency with offices in New Jersey and Florida.
As Cora Fulmore and others successfully advocated for 10 million dollars to fund housing counseling from a major mortgage settlement agreement, her idea for an organization that served housing counseling become a reality when Florida Housing chose the FHCN to support the Foreclosure Counseling Program with technical assistance.
Cora Fulmore, Co-Founder of the Florida Housing Counselor Network
Who is the Network?
We are the collective voice and advocate for housing counselors and counseling agencies in Florida. We are a social impact (nonproﬁt) corporation and the ﬁrst organization dedicated to supporting the needs of housing counselors and agencies in the State of Florida.
The Florida Housing Counselor Network is a singular voice for its member agencies in regard to working with policymakers and investors as well as the advocate for additional support at the state and national levels. We convene leaders from across the state to evaluate current needs and develop strategies and solutions. Even more than being the premier organization for housing counseling, WE are a movement.