Boning up on fair housing issues

Perrott reported on the National Community Reinvestment Coalition training in Jan 2015.
Published: Thursday, March 05, 2015

Housing was on the agenda for Consumer Action’s Audrey Perrott in January, when our San Francisco-based Associate Director of Outreach and Training attended a five-day training hosted by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and a conference hosted by Fair Housing of Marin.

Perrott reports that the NCRC training provided non-profit staff members with a clearer understanding of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its housing counseling compliance requirements. The course covered topics that included affirmatively furthering fair housing, loss mitigation, recordkeeping, homebuyer education and mortgage default and delinquency. Michelle Lewis, CEO of Northwest Counseling Service, Inc., and Jeffrey May, assistant director of National Neighbors for NCRC, taught the course.

Lewis provided detailed information on current housing counseling requirements as well as a pending proposed rule. Under a HUD-proposed rule published Sept. 13, 2013, all housing counseling agencies would have to employ HUD-certified counselors. Counselors would have to show competency by passing a written exam in six areas: financial management and property maintenance; homeownership and tenancy; fair housing laws and requirements; housing affordability; avoidance of and responses to rental and mortgage delinquency; and avoidance of eviction and mortgage default.

Currently, there are approximately 2,400 HUD-approved counseling agencies. The agencies counseled 1.5 million consumers in 2013. Almost half of all counseling provided was for foreclosure prevention and mortgage default. Approximately 176,000 consumers sought pre-purchase counseling in that same time period. May took students on a historical journey, covering civil rights laws from their earliest days through the present. He discussed how housing counseling agencies need to continue to work to affirmatively further fair housing.

Toward the end of the week, Perrott attended “Housing Equality: The Big Picture,” a conference hosted by Fair Housing of Marin. Government officials, fair housing practitioners, attorneys, real estate industry professionals, advocates and academics attended the event. The gathering gave attendees an opportunity to come together in strategic sessions to discuss barriers to housing choice. The conference had tracks for advocates and government. A documentary film was shown at the conference. A Matter of Place chronicles the history of racial discrimination and examines how it still limits housing choices for consumers today. Click here to view the film.

Prior to joining Consumer Action in 2007, Perrott worked for a non-profit fair housing counseling agency as a compliance and outreach coordinator and grant developer. Perrott also worked for a number of years as both a housing specialist and eligibility/Section 8 supervisor for the Housing Authority of the County of Alameda and the City of Benicia Housing Authority.

Recognizing that tenants and homeowners are confronting difficult choices daily due to rising rents, evictions, housing discrimination and various foreclosure recovery scams, including short sale flipping, Consumer Action will hold a by-invitation-only housing roundtable in Oakland, CA this month to give community-based groups information they need on federal, state and local laws and regulations to assist clients dealing with these issues. We’ll report on the workshop in an upcoming issue of INSIDER.




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