HUD grants $42 million in housing counseling funds

WASHINGTON Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:50pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Housing and Urban Development is awarding more than $42 million in housing counseling grant funding to support home buyers and to prevent future foreclosures, the department said on Friday.

The new grants will go to 468 state and local organizations and is expected to support hundreds of thousands of households. The money will help those families receive free assistance on how to avoid foreclosure or mortgage scams, and teaches buyers how to purchase or rent a home, HUD said in a statement.

The $42 million comes from the fiscal 2012 budget that restored HUD-approved housing counseling after Congress cut all funds appropriated for that type of nonprofit work in 2011. The money complements the roughly $2.5 billion provided to states for housing programs as part of the government's $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement, according to HUD.

"Housing counseling works for families that are in need, but also for entire neighborhoods and our housing market more broadly," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan on a conference call with reporters.

HUD-approved counselors have helped almost 6 million families in the last three years, Donovan said. He said about 9 out of 10 families who work with a housing counselor to avoid foreclosure and manage their money continue to live in their homes nearly 18 months after receiving assistance.

(Reporting By Margaret Chadbourn; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

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