The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is many things to many people, but you probably don't think of this agency when you think of job creation or training. But that's just another way HUD works to get and keep families in their homes.
In addition to overseeing Federal Housing Administration ( FHA) lending and other housing programs, HUD works to increase home ownership opportunities in other ways, such as getting current or future homeowners into jobs.
Agencies that receive HUD funding must give hiring priority to low-income applicants and public housing residents. The over 3,500 state and local government agencies that receive HUD funds are required to report annually on their use of funding to hire low- and very-low-income applicants and public housing residents. Agencies are also required to contract with companies that hire such applicants to the "greatest extent feasible." HUD continues to work with business, vocational, labor, educational and community organizations to help workers become sufficiently trained and eligible for better job opportunities. In 2008, HUD funding generated more than 17,000 new work and training opportunities and moved more than $340 million in HUD-funded construction contracts to eligible businesses.
HUD Casts a Wide Net
If you lose your job due to the economy and your home to foreclosure, HUD programs can get you back on your feet. First, emergency "re-homing" plans can help you get into rental housing, even if your credit has been crushed and your income diminished. Job training opportunities can help you get a new job. Furthermore, housing counseling and downpayment assistance can help you buy your next home when you're ready.
HUD takes this multi-pronged approach because home ownership involves more than plunking down cash and taking out a mortgage. HUD understands that just buying a home doesn't automatically stabilize the family -- it takes education, commitment and resources. "HUD's mission is to invest in people as well as buildings," said John Trasvina, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in a recent press release. HUD programs aren't just for those starting out, either. HUD's Bethel Villa program in Delaware, for example, offers seniors specialized training and job-placement assistance to prepare them for second careers.
Grants to Local Agencies
HUD makes money available to state and local agencies for foreclosure prevention resources, including job creation or job training. Florida, for example, just received $2.1 million in grants from HUD for job training. This particular grant was made under the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program.
FSS program benefits can include the following:
- Child care
- Job training and employment counseling
- Substance/alcohol abuse treatment or counseling
- Household skill training
- Home ownership counseling
In exchange for receiving this help, the head of a household must sign a contract relinquishing the rights to public assistance at the end of the program's five-year term. As the family's income rises, a part of the increased income must be withheld by the agency and deposited in an interest-bearing escrow account. On completion of the FSS contract, the family gets the escrowed funds back (if they fail to complete it, they forfeit the money). The account can be used for any purpose, including a downpayment on a home, paying educational expenses, starting a business or paying off debt.
Other local programs function like Connecticut's Mortgage Crisis Job Training Program. This program offers those who are more than 60 days behind on their primary residence's mortgage help with:
- Customized employment services
- Job retraining
- Job-placement assistance
- Financial literacy
- Credit counseling
- Referrals to other support services
Those with household income of less than $120,000 per year can apply for help through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA).
How Do You Find Job Training or Other Foreclosure Assistance?
As we mentioned, HUD has a page on its site containing state and local foreclosure prevention resources, but you won't find all the help that's available to you there. It's a good start, though, listing counselors, state agencies and even charitable organizations that may be able to help you keep your home or improve your circumstances. You can also search online for your state or city and the term "foreclosure prevention," or "foreclosure prevention job training." This will bring up programs that may help you, including those that receive HUD funding. Other agencies or organizations may have assistance for you too -- for example, AARP has senior counseling programs for retirees with mortgage problems, and women's groups may be able to help out single moms. Programs are all over the board, with some offering everything from job training to education, and others providing everything from cash to advocacy.
Gina Pogol has been writing about mortgage and finance since 1994. In addition to a decade in mortgage lending, she has worked as a business credit systems consultant for Experian and as an accountant for Deloitte.