On behalf of the Board of Directors and Advisors of the Florida Housing Counselor Network, I want to thank the following HUD Certified Agencies for signing on to the public comments submitted to the Department of Economic Opportunity about the Homeowners Assistance Funds coming to the State of Florida.


St. Johns Housing Partnership

St. Augustine

Marissa Vetter

Comprehensive Housing Resources, Inc.

Port Charlotte

Diana Bello


Credit Card Management Services, Inc. 

W. Palm Beach

Mohan Lalwani


Neighborhood Home Solutions

St. Petersburg 

Deborah F. Scanlan


HELP (Housing, Education, Lending Program)

Naples

Michael Puchella


Lee County Housing Development Corp.

Ft. Myers 

Erika Cook


Suncoast Housing Connections

Clearwater

Frances Pheeny


Affordable Homeownership Foundation, Inc.

Ft. Myers 

Lois Healy


Neighborhood Housing & Development Corp.

Gainesville

Corey Harris


H.E.L.P. Community Development Corp.

Eatonville

Brenda Dollison


Consolidated Credit Solutions

Ft. Lauderdale

Barry Rothman


Community Enterprise Investments, Inc.

Pensacola

Preston Denagall


REACH – Real Estate, Education, & Community Housing Hsg.

Ft. Lauderdale

Patricia Tracey


Solita’s House

Tampa

Aidza Antonio-Thomas


Crisis Housing Solutions

Davie

Craig Vanderlaan


HANDS of Central Florida

Orlando

Jill McReynolds


Community Solutions 360, Inc.

Bradenton

Laura Carter


Graceful Solutions

Tallahassee 

Bill Wilson


Neighborhood Housing Services of S. Florida, Inc.

Miami

Kimberly Henderson


Wealth Watchers, Inc.

Jacksonville

Ed Gaston


Diversified Resource Network

Ocoee

Cora Fulmore


Centro Campesino Farmworkers Center, Inc.

Florida City

John Martinez


Tallahassee Lender’s Consortium

Tallahassee 

Karen Miller


Consumer Credit & Budget Counseling

Clearwater

Russell Graves

 

The American Rescue Plan is providing significant dollars to the State of Florida ($ 676 million).  This will provide much needed assistance to homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

This crisis is a result of the pandemic and the homeowners need assistance to get back on their feet, keep their homes and be able to move forward on a solid financial footing.  To do that, they need more than the money to pay their back mortgage payments.  They need professional assistance to review their overall financial situation, develop a budget for how to move forward so they can keep their home and not default on their mortgage in the future.

The Florida Housing Counselor Network represents nonprofit HUD Certified Housing Counseling Agencies in the State of Florida.  This group of counseling agencies has experience in supporting homeowners with assistance from the Hardest Hit Fund, the National Foreclosure Mitigation Program and the Foreclosure Counseling Program.  Through those programs, the housing counselors across the state supported thousands of Floridians.  They stand ready to do that again with the new Homeowner Assistance Fund.

There are several challenges, with a program such as this, that suggest that housing counselors should be providing the assistance to the homeowners who are in danger of losing their home.

We have found with previous programs that a large number of the homeowners need support with submitting an application due to technology challenges, language barriers, complex cases, etc.  Housing counselors can provide this support.

Successful programs have the housing counseling services at the front end of the process.  As an example, the plan for the State of Maryland is proposing a call center that homeowners will use to access the program.  At that initial call they will be referred to a local housing counseling agency to assist them with their application and to support them through the process.

The State of New York is planning to contract with up to sixty-five (65) non-profit housing counseling and legal   services entities, who are part of the New York State Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) Network.   This Network is similar to the Florida Housing Counselor Network in that they both have counselors that are highly trained and skilled at working with homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

Both Oregon and New Hampshire are using their 211 system to refer people to nonprofit homeownership advisor who can explain the options and can help clients navigate the systems.

We recognize that the published proposed plan for Florida’s use of the HAF funds does include housing counseling and we appreciate that support.  We propose that you include those services in your pilot program so the counseling agencies can provide you with an assessment of the true needs they are seeing with their clients and how the program might be structured to better serve the citizens of Florida.

Housing counselors have experience in dealing with lenders on loan modifications.  HUD data suggests homeowners are 283% more likely to get a loan modification when a housing counselor is involved in the negotiations.  When you can go to a lender with the money to bring the loan current you have a much stronger case in obtaining a modification.  Getting a loan modification that is in keeping with the homeowners’ new budget will better position the homeowners for future financial success.

While the $676 million seems like a large number, it will only help a portion of the homeowners affected by the job loss and the financial and economic ravages brought on by the COVID pandemic.  The five percent of the funds set aside for homeowner support should not be limited to those receiving financial support under the program but all Florida homeowners suffering housing insecurity.  Those who cannot receive the funds need to be supported by HUD Certified Housing Counselors who can help them understand how to benefit from other home retention options.  

Under the provisions of the America Rescue Plan a state can allocate up to five percent (5%) of the total allocation to housing counseling and other support services.  We look forward to working with you as you finalize the DEO HAF Plan and ask you to consider allocating the full amount for these much needed services.

Upcoming events

  • No upcoming events



As Cora Fulmore and others successfully advocated for 10 million dollars to fund housing counseling from a major mortgage  settlement agreement, her idea for an organization that served housing counseling become a reality when Florida Housing chose the FHCN to support the Foreclosure Counseling  Program with technical assistance. 

Cora Fulmore, Co-Founder of the Florida Housing Counselor Network

Who is the Network?

We are the collective voice and advocate for housing counselors and counseling agencies in Florida.  We are a social impact (nonprofit) corporation and the first organization dedicated to supporting the needs of housing counselors and agencies in the State of Florida.

Learn More About Our Mission


Why Join the Network?

The Florida Housing Counselor Network is a singular voice for its member agencies in regard to working with policymakers and investors as well as the advocate for additional support at the state and national levels. We convene leaders from across the state to evaluate current needs and develop strategies and solutions. Even more than being the premier organization for housing counseling, WE are a movement.

See What Our Members Have To Say

The Florida Housing Counselor Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

© Florida Housing Counselor Network

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software