December 28, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

HUD Announces New Housing Counseling Certification Requirements

Effort designed to improve and standardize professional standards for those who counsel consumers
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it will require that housing counselors participating in HUD programs to be certified to offer counseling services to consumers. In order to become certified, housing counselors must pass a standardized written examination and work for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency (HCA). Counselors must demonstrate competency in each of the following areas of housing counseling: (1) financial management; (2) property maintenance; (3) responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy; (4) fair housing laws and requirements; (5) housing affordability; and (6) avoidance of, and responses to, rental and mortgage delinquency and avoidance of eviction and mortgage default. Though announced recently, HUD's final rule will take full effect three years following the release of the certification examination. To help counselors prepare for the exam, the Department is offering intensive training and study resources (in English and Spanish) to its counseling stakeholders. HUD is providing a wealth of resources to individuals seeking HUD certification including a practice test that will be available shortly and the actual certification test is expected to be published in the Spring of 2017.

Caregivers for the Disabled in Virginia May Face Cuts

An effort to bring state-funded services to thousands more disabled people could jeopardize funding for those who are already receiving support, advocates for the disabled say. Virginia health officials have been trying to cut into an 11,000-person wait list for services paid for with Medicaid vouchers, part of a broader effort to comply with the terms of a 2012 federal court settlement that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, requires the state to find a way to allow more people with disabilities to live and work in community environments rather than institutional settings. Faced with an increasing demand for services, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has started to use an assessment of individual patients’ needs known as the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) to help determine funding levels. The assessments have led to a reduction in state reimbursement rates by as much as half in some cases, prompting concern from family members and advocates about the quality of care people with disabilities will receive when the new rates take effect in January.

Affordability Falls to Lowest Level in Eight Years

A consumer's ability to afford to purchase a home during the fourth quarter was at its lowest level in eight years due to rapid price appreciation, moderate wage growth and the post-election increase in interest rates, said Attom Data Solutions. Nationally, the affordability index in the fourth quarter was 103, down from 108 in the third quarter and down from 116 a year ago to the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008, when the national home affordability index was 102. And the trend is likely to get worse next year, said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom, in a press release.

No comments:

Post a Comment