Mortgage servicer DEVAL helps at-risk borrowers find affordable housing options by collaborating with a variety of government programs and resources that support loss mitigation efforts and enable borrowers to find alternative housing solutions if, and when, a loan modification or solution is not viable.
One of these resources is Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing, or VASH. VASH is a nationwide veterans voucher program which covers the continental U.S. and its territories. The program encompasses the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s housing mission by providing housing choice vouchers and rental assistance for homeless veterans, while the VA adds to this support by providing case management and clinical services. Since 2008, more than 85,000 vouchers have been awarded by VASH.
DEVAL recognized that there is a particular set of needs when servicing veterans. Founder and CEO Deborah Garcia-Gratacos said that some of the particular needs DEVAL sees while servicing veterans is understanding that they represent servicing situations that require a non-traditional approach.
Garcia-Gratacos explained that the company’s mission is not just to service the loans for its borrowers, but also to provide housing solutions outside of the normal servicing spectrum.
“Many times, these solutions require using a more ‘high-touch’ approach that includes discussions with a housing counselor so that a long-term solution is reached,” she said.
In addition to VASH, DEVAL works alongside other affordable housing programs, including HUD’s Section 8 program and state and local housing programs administered by the Housing Authority, to provide solutions to borrowers at risk of homelessness.
DEVAL, a Hispanic, woman-owned loan servicer, also has an internal affordable housing unit which provides counseling, training and housing solutions to a range of clients including HUD and Housing Authorities nationwide.
If a homeowner or family is facing homelessness, DEVAL offers solutions to borrowers by connecting them to HUD’s Information Resource Center, providing information on local and state housing programs, area housing authorities and matching borrowers to local housing counselors.
DEVAL’s evolution into a housing counselor for its clients gives them the ability to marshal a wide range of services for borrowers.
“This experience has allowed us to approach housing matters holistically since we focus on providing long-term housing solutions,” Garcia-Gratacos said.
The DEVAL team has provided affordable housing support and technical expertise for multiple HUD offices, including: the Office of Public Housing and Voucher Programs; the Office of Field Operations; the Office of Policy, Programs and Legislative Initiatives; the Real Estate Assessment Center, and the Office of Native American Programs.
Garcia-Gratacos said the DEVAL’s early beginnings in the affordable housing space has provided the company the opportunity to work with programs which allow Americans to keep a roof over their heads.
“In servicing, that need is still prevalent and we work hard to find ways to maintain housing options after loss mitigation efforts are exhausted,” she said.