Senate Members Push to Restore $125 Million in Housing Counseling Funds

A recent push by members of Congress could signal a movement toward restoration of HECM counseling funding.

A Senate subcommittee Tuesday voted to restore $125 million in support for housing counseling programs, including $60 million for counseling activities under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which spans counseling for HECM borrowers.

The statement of support comes in the form of a fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill signed by a bi-partisan group of 24 senators representing nearly a quarter of the entire U.S. Senate. Approved by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), the bill includes $65 million toward continuation of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program, which began in fiscal year 2008.

HUD’s $88 million housing counseling funding was slashed by Congress earlier this year, and is scheduled to run dry on October 1. The industry has put forth a strong effort toward restoring the funds at a time when HECM counseling protocols have recently undergone new additions.

“Restoring these important counseling funds will help ensure that seniors make the most informed decisions possible when determining how to access their equity wealth to meet their current needs,” said Jeff Lewis, Chairman of the Coalition for Independent Seniors, in a statement. “Today’s action will instill confidence in seniors about their ability to maintain financially independent lives and stay in their homes.”

The bill will come under a full committee markup tomorrow.

A House appropriations bill passed earlier in September included cuts to HUD funding without restoration of the housing counseling funds.

If passed through the full committee and Senate, the bill will fall under negotiation between the House and Senate.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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