The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to offer $73 million in housing-counseling grants to organizations that help first-time homebuyers purchase a property and other homeowners keep their homes. The level of grants is up 22% from last year. The process is competitive. Organizations must be HUD approved, and the agency routinely reviews the grant recipients. A list of the grants awarded can be found here. In addition to helping people acquire a home, the organizations also offer essential financial literacy to renters, homeless people and families, according to HUD. "These organizations are on the front lines of helping families who are desperate to remain in their homes," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said. "Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that we support these agencies that are working with struggling families on a one-to-one basis to manage their money, navigate the homebuying process, and secure their financial futures." The bulk of the grants will fund counseling services by 24 national and regional organizations, five multistate organizations and 484 state and local agencies. HUD is also providing $5 million to three national groups that will train about 4,500 counselors to specifically help people with housing-related needs. About $9.5 million of the grants will fund programs designed to help senor citizens obtain reverse mortgages or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages. "The organizations that provide housing counseling services help people become or remain homeowners or find rental housing, and assist homeless persons in finding the transitional housing they need to move toward a permanent place to live," according to HUD. "Grant recipients also help homebuyers and homeowners realistically evaluate their readiness for a home purchase, understand their financing and downpayment options, and navigate what can be an extremely confusing and difficult process." Earlier in December, HUD said it helped 750,000 Americans find a home or stay in their current abode through its $1.5 billion homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing program. Roughly $610.7 million, or about 41%, of the fund has been disbursed. The program is set to run through 2012. Write to Jason Philyaw.