HFUSA Joins New Industry Collaboration to Standardize and Integrate Home Counseling Practices

BOSTON, MA - Housing Partnership Network (HPN), HomeFree-USA, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), UnidosUS and Fannie Mae are pleased to announce a joint effort to develop an exciting new platform for the housing industry that serves the needs of prospective and existing homeowners and renters across the U.S.

The platform, a new client management system using technology, will help housing advisors integrate with the mortgage industry by offering automated underwriting tools like Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter®. By combining these tools with improved case tracking and a standardized process, housing advisors can better partner with mortgage lenders and deliver essential services more efficiently and effectively.

The housing counseling industry has helped millions of homebuyers with customized review of housing choices, household credit and budget, and the purchase process. Yet HPN members and industry partners have identified standardizing and integrating practices through technology as the next step in advancing the industry to a scale capable of moving the needle on economic mobility and homeownership in the U.S., particularly for individuals with low and moderate incomes.

“The new platform is being created by housing counseling practitioners to meet the real world needs of today’s homebuyers and renters,” said Chuck Wehrwein, COO at Housing Partnership Network, a national business collaborative of affordable housing and community development nonprofits. “The vision of our collaborators is to one day see prospective homebuyers seek out a housing advisor before purchasing their first home as part of a successful journey to building lifelong financial security.”

According to Matt Ribe, general counsel for the NFCC, “The timing couldn’t be better. As communities have recovered from the Great Recession and real estate markets have heated up, millions of Americans are struggling to attain the credit, savings and income needed for sustainable homeownership. And many don’t see homeownership as a realistic option. Through this collaboration with HPN, our members will be better positioned to meet the need.”

“The challenges are even greater for communities of color,” said Marcia Griffin, president of HomeFree-USA. “Over the next ten years, 75 percent of net new U.S. households are projected to be persons of color, and yet the homeownership rates in these communities continue to decline, and with it hopes of building family wealth. Our network is hungry for enhanced tools to better position our clients to succeed in sustainable homeownership.”

As an investor, Fannie Mae is focused on empowering industry partners and expanding the use of homeownership education. “There is a growing appreciation among mortgage lenders of the value that housing advisors can offer, especially to make sure that first time homebuyers are well positioned for long term success. This technology initiative is a key element to more fully integrating housing counseling into the mortgage process.” said Jonathan Lawless, Fannie Mae’s vice president of product development and affordable housing.

The first version of the new technology platform is expected to launch and be available to organizations by the end of 2018.

HUD counseling intermediary organizations and mortgage lenders that are interested in joining the effort are encouraged to reach out to Lyndsay Burns at Housing Partnership Network to learn more.