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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good News For Agencies that Provide Housing Counseling!

Last Spring, terrible news came down for housing counseling agencies. Funding that they planned to use to counsel hundreds of thousands of potential homeowners was no longer available due to problems with the federal government.

This news was especially troublesome.

Housing is typically a person’s largest expense and investment. Housing counseling helps educate consumers and level the playing field between individuals and institutions that naturally have very different amounts of information and power. Housing counseling creates confidence for first-time homebuyers facing mortgage banks, tenants facing housing court, and homeowners facing foreclosure attorneys.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc. (CCCS Buffalo) fought hard to get funding restored. We see every day how effective this funding is to the people of Western New York, and were determined to make sure that our community was well served.

We have reason to celebrate now. As of last week, members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees filed the Conference Report (i.e., the final version) on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations for FY 2012. Included in the bill is a total of $125 million for HUD housing counseling assistance programs, with $80 million going to the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program; and $45 million for HUD’s comprehensive counseling programs. The Conference Report also directs HUD to award the comprehensive counseling funding within 120 days after enactment of the bill. The legislation is expected to be approved by the House and Senate, and signed by the President, by the end of this week.

Given that HUD’s comprehensive counseling funding for FY 2011 was zeroed-out, this represents a significant victory for agencies providing housing counseling---like Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo--and for the consumers that they serve.

We at CCCS Buffalo reached out to many elected officials for their help. Our thanks to all of those who responded. Your efforts made a difference. Special thanks to Congressmember Brian Higgins and
Congressmember Louise Slaughter for their special assistance.

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