Consumers are advised by notices from Housing and Urban Development that any agency offering housing and financial counseling must first employ counselors who are certified by HUD on or before August 1, 2020. HUD-Certified Housing Counselors are required to pass a proctored examination to demonstrate competency regarding all aspects of budgeting, debt management, credit readiness, Fair Housing Law and rental housing issues, in addition to specific information regarding the home buying process. Chris Burk, Counseling Program Manager for Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc., said two of HCCI’s Counselors have passed the rigorous HUD examination and other HCCI Counselors are scheduled to sit for the exam this summer.
Burk said, “HUD is strictly enforcing this new rule to help assure consumers have access to skilled and highly knowledgeable housing counselors who are better able to assist both renters and prospective home buyers with a wide range of budgeting and credit issues.” He said the HUD rule assures counseling agencies such as HCCI are meeting all of HUD’s stringent requirements. Burk said, “About 70% of the people we counsel at HCCI have student loan debt, medical debt or a combination of both that results in a lower credit score that keeps them from qualifying for an auto loan, rental contract or home purchase.” Burk said HCCI’s HUD-Certified Counselors are specifically trained to counsel for all types of debt including student loan repayment options, credit building, rental housing issues and home buying. Burk said, “Many well intentioned agencies offer budget counseling but the important thing is for people to find a HUD-Certified Counselor who is knowledgeable about how people can systematically reduce debt, build credit and save.” Burk said lenders, especially those offering mortgage loans, will be referring consumers to HUD-Certified Housing Counselors and consumers should ask for HUD-Certified credentials prior to scheduling a counseling appointment.