Scanlon Leads Push for HUD to Extend Deadline for Critical Housing Program
Today, Representative Mary Gay Scanlon took action to protect Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Housing Counseling Assistance Program which has faced significant challenges due to COVID-19.
In a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Representative Scanlon led members of Congress in requesting that HUD delay the housing counselor certification deadline for at least one year, in light of ongoing interruptions to test preparation and administration caused by COVID-19.
The Housing Counseling Assistance program has successfully helped low-and middle-income Americans navigate the housing market, obtain a mortgage, and avoid foreclosure and eviction. Counselors prepare consumers to make informed housing decisions and save money and have been instrumental in helping people navigate disaster preparedness, response, and recovery—assistance that will undoubtedly be needed now during COVID-19 and in the upcoming hurricane season.
Community development organizations nationwide have testified to the difficulties in meeting the August 1, 2020 certification deadline.
“Between statewide public health directives and a prudent desire to reduce the spread of COVID-19, nearly all testing sites in the United States are closed. Based on current and projected data on COVID-19, it is extremely unlikely that enough in-person testing sites will be operational by August 1—and even if some sites were to open between now and August 1, it would leave test takers with less than two months to figure out their testing situation,” the lawmakers wrote.
They continued, “Keeping the August 1, 2020 deadline will severely disrupt the provision of housing counseling services at the same time that many Americans will be seeking support. Housing counseling will soon be in greater demand as the effects of high unemployment and reduced economic activity reverberate through the housing market. Millions of Americans from all communities are at risk of foreclosure or eviction, and many will require the advice and guidance provided by the Housing Counseling Assistance Program. However, many HUD Certified Housing Counseling Agencies stand to lose their certification and federal funding if their current counselors are unable to be certified.”
This letter was signed by Representatives Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Cindy Axne (D-IA, Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Bill Pascrell Jr (D-NJ), and Cheri Bustos (D-IL).
A copy of the letter can be found here.