NeighborWorks provides $68 million to fund foreclosure counseling
NeighborWorks America gave $67.7 million to provide counseling for borrowers on the verge of foreclosure. The money — NeighborWorks' fifth round of funding — went to 37 state housing finance agencies, 17 Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselor intermediaries and 84 NeighborWorks organizations. Though NeighborWorks does take donations, Congress appropriates most of the funding to the nonprofit. Lawmakers cut all HUD funding for separate housing counseling programs in the 2011 budget at a time when demand escalated. Applicants requested more than $212 million in grants from NeighborWorks during this round of awards. "At a time when foreclosures continue to affect communities around the country and unemployment rates remain stubbornly high, the need for the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling funding is critical," NeighborWorks said. "Demand for these funds far exceeded the amount of funding available." The $67.7 million through the latest round of funding will help more than 1,400 nonprofit organizations provide foreclosure counseling to an estimated 184,000 families, according to NeighborWorks. Research on counseling effectiveness remains largely inconclusive, according to a recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Researchers for the trade group did find some programs reduced any form of mortgage default by as much as 34%. Another study from the Urban Institute evaluated NFMC programs in 2008 and 2009. Researchers found curing a foreclosure was nearly two times higher for a homeowner working with NeighborWorks counselors. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.