Senators Call for Restoration of HUD’s “Critical” Counseling Funding

Four senators have drafted a letter requesting restoration of funds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s nonprofit housing counseling groups. The plea comes in the wake of MBA Chairman Michael D. Berman’s Congressional hearing appearance with a similar appeal.

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va), and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) are working together on a request to reinstitute the nearly $88 million in funds to HUD that was cut from the 2011 Federal budget.

The letter’s draft lists Sens. Patty Murray and Susan Collins as primary recipients; Senator Murray is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, of which Senator Collins is a ranking member.

The letter states that cutting the Housing Counseling Assistance Program funding “jeopardizes” the program beyond Fiscal Year 2011 as other programs’ budgets won’t be able to cover its costs. It mentions the “critical” nature of the housing counseling program as “it has been the primary source of housing information and resources for prospective and current homeowners, renters, and seniors.”

“In addition,” the draft reads, “it is the only program that funds reverse mortgage counseling, which is mandatory for senior homeowners who seek a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.”

As MBA Chairman Berman said during a Congressional hearing last week, cutting HUD’s budget for loan counseling directly affects seniors wanting to take out reverse mortgages, since they often aren’t aware of all necessary information.

Financial Services and Tax Legislative Assistant Stacey Wong, from Senator Akaka’s office, said the letter is still a draft, and that the deadline to sign the letter is June 1. It will be sent out after being signed.

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