Will PHAs and the Housing Industry Be Ready?
Nearly three years after HUD published its final rule on housing counselor certification, the mandate will go into effect on August 1, 2020. The final rule states that all housing counseling required under HUD programs must be conducted by exam-certified counselors. The requirement also has implications for individuals working on other HUD programs where homeownership or rental counseling are part of the supportive services provided to residents. CDBG, HOME, and public housing authority programs like Housing Choice Voucher and Family Self-Sufficiency all include program elements that require staff in positions providing those services be certified. A list of HUD programs affected by the final rule, and the circumstances under which it applies, is available here.
Counselor certification is a product of the massive Dodd-Frank legislation of 2010 which sought to put a variety of consumer protections in place in the aftermath of the mortgage market crisis. Not only did the legislation mandate HUD establish a counselor certification exam, it was also required to create an Office of Housing Counseling (OHC). The OHC now maintains oversight of HUD’s national network of approximately 1,800 approved counseling agencies, and also designed and instituted the exam. As required by statute, all counselors are required to demonstrate comprehensive understanding of six competency areas: Housing Affordability, Financial Management, Avoiding Foreclosure, Fair Housing, Tenancy, and Homeownership.
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