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October 11, 2018

HUD Awards $47M in Housing Counseling Grants Including Reverse Mortgage

Reverse Mortgage Daily--Maggie Callahan

Some reverse mortgage counseling agencies received a financial boost Wednesday when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $47 million in grants to housing counseling organizations across the country.

In addition to supporting counseling for first-time homebuyers and other homeowners, the annual grant money will help fund some reverse mortgage counseling operations.

Quickcert Inc., a Tulsa, Okla.-based counseling agency that focuses solely on reverse mortgage counseling, received $172,433 in grant funding. Brandon Gentry, Quickcert’s operations manger, told RMD that this year’s funding is especially helpful after a few years of not receiving grant money.

“We’re very happy and very appreciative,” he said. “We’re one of the counselors that still allows applicants to finance those costs, and many don’t go on to open the loan, which means we don’t get paid — so at some point you need the money.”

GreenPath Financial Wellness, out of Farmington Hills, Mich. received $2.3 million of the funding. Gene Spencer, CEO of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, an affiliate of grant recipient GreenPath, did not have numbers to compare this year’s grant to last year’s but did say the funding is just one piece of the the financial puzzle.

“The HUD funding helps, but more is needed to support the needs of aging reverse mortgage holders in ensuring compliance with property taxes, maintenance and other requirements,” Spencer told RMD.

Oakland, Calif.-based National Association of Real Estate Brokers- Investment Division, Inc., received $1.2 million in grant funding. This was an increase over its $1,048,000 in funding from last year, said founder and president Ray Carlisle.

“This typically covers about 20% of the operations — sometimes as low as 12%,” he said. Carlisle said counseling is a crucial part of the HECM loan process as it helps prevent predatory lending and other harmful activities.

“The government has a real responsibility to make sure that a high-cost product like this does not become misused,” he said.

In total, the grants support 31 national and regional organizations, six multi-state organizations, 19 state housing finance agencies and 207 local housing counseling agencies, with Washington D.C.-area organizations receiving almost $8 million of the grants.

“These agencies 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,” HUD said in a press release.

In addition, four national counseling groups will receive a total comprising $3.5 million in grant funding to train and certify additional housing counselors.

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