The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $25,910 in a housing counseling grant to the Virgin Islands Finance Housing Authority on St. Thomas to help families and individuals with their housing needs and to prevent future foreclosures. HUD’s housing counseling grants and the additional funding they leverage will assist more than 1.4 million households nationwide find housing, make more informed housing choices, or keep their current homes, according to a HUD press release issued Friday.
“This is a smart investment in helping families find and keep their homes,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Quite simply, knowledge is power. We know that armed with the information they need, those who receive counseling services are far more successful in buying, renting or avoiding foreclosure.”
HUD’s housing counseling grant funding support community-based organizations that assist low- and moderate-income families to improve their housing conditions.
Grant recipients address the full range of families’ housing counseling needs. This includes helping homebuyers evaluate their readiness for a home purchase, understand their financing and down payment options, and navigate what can be an extremely confusing and difficult homebuying process. The organization also helps households find affordable rental housing and offers financial literacy training to individuals and families struggling to repair credit problems that restrict their housing options.
In addition to providing counseling to homeowners and renters, these organizations assist homeless persons in finding the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live.
Finally, grantees also assist senior citizens seeking reverse mortgages. 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.
Housing counseling agencies also support fair housing by assisting borrowers in reviewing their loan documentation, to avoid potential mortgage scams, unreasonably high interest rates, inflated appraisals, unaffordable repayment terms and other conditions that can result in a loss of equity, increased debt, default and even foreclosure. Foreclosure prevention counseling helps homeowners facing delinquency or default employ strategies, including expense reduction, negotiation with lenders and loan servicers, and loss mitigation, to avoid foreclosure.
There are many ways to find a HUD approved housing counseling agency. Visit HUD’s Web site or call (800) 569-4287 for an interactive telephone directory.