As attention inside the Beltway shifts to President Obama's 2012 budget plan outlined in his speech Wednesday, there's danger that a critical provision in the 2011 continuing resolution -- the last-minute deal that avoided a government shutdown -- will be ignored. In that deal, housing counseling funding has been zeroed out.
So in the middle of the housing crisis, the funding which enables the local, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that are often the only source of competent and impartial help for people struggling to avoid foreclosure will disappear. Simply put, hundreds of thousands of families who could be helped to keep their homes won't get that help, and won't get a chance to save their homes.
This is a disaster that will ripple through whole communities, further dampening the already-feeble recovery, which is already being held back by a weak housing market.
Just what do these counselors do? According to the National Council of La Raza, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies have provided the following assistance to people struggling to keep or obtain housing since fiscal year 2009:
- Provided more than 4 million families with individual housing counseling
- Counseled more than 420,000 pre-purchase households, resulting in 185,000 who purchased homes or are homeownership-ready
- Worked to prevent mortgage delinquency for 2.6 million households, with nearly 834,000 avoiding foreclosure
- Supported 413,000 with post-purchase (non-foreclosure) services, 168,000 of whom refinanced or obtained reverse mortgages, and
- Assisted more than 590,000 renters and homeless individuals to resolve tenant issues or find shelter
I understand that fixing the nation's budget problem is hard and will require sacrifices, but dismantling such critical housing assistance in the midst of the foreclosure crisis is insane. It's like being on a sinking ship and selling off the lifeboats to raise money.
Congress is scheduled to debate the continuing resolution tomorrow, so time is of the essence. Here are some numbers you can call to let your representatives know that this sort of false economy is a tragic mistake and should be removed from the continuing resolution before it's adopted.
Where To Call:
House of Representatives: 1-800-962-3524. Ask for your representative
Senate: 1-800-962-3524. Ask for both of your senators
White House: 1-202-456-1414. Ask for the Comment Line