Approximately 25 years ago, I was offered a position to provide housing counseling to households that were delinquent with their mortgage. This counseling enlightened me to not only the legal process of foreclosure in Colorado but the economical and emotional impact mortgage delinquency and foreclosure had on these families, and their communities.
Over the course of my career, the services I developed and managed expanded to prepurchase counseling, homebuyer education for first time homebuyers, financial literacy classes, and providing downpayment and closing cost assistance to first time homebuyers who were below the 80 area median income bracket. These families have received invaluable information and guidance for the buying process and mitigation of foreclosure. In the course of my 25 years, I realized the incredible impact I and all housing counselors have on the households we serve.
Each counselor, if given the opportunity, could share a story that would bring pride and joy to not only our service industry but to the many economic partners that benefit from the clients we counsel, i.e.-schools, employers. While housing counseling may be difficult to measure on a chart, with each face to face counseling, housing counselors can see the real success of what we do. One of the Colorado Housing Assistance Corporations' (CHAC) clients, Richard, a blind first time homebuyer, lost his “reader”, and made some decisions on who to pay, not initially realizing that eventually it would impact his ability to pay his low interest rate mortgage he has with our state’s housing finance authority. With the chance of foreclosure threatening his only investment, both CHAC and our state housing finance authority (CHFA), worked closely to detail a counseling plan, that would help him on a monthly basis to get back on track, make good financial decisions, and even have an opportunity to seek some employment . This story is just one of millions that so many knowledgeable and caring housing counselors have.
My passion over the span of my career has always been to merge the private sector (lenders, realtor’s , title companies) with housing counselors. With the purchasing process, disclosures, rules all becoming tighter and more challenging, the homebuying professionals would benefit immensely from the education and counseling our industry provides to their first time homebuyers. My work with lenders and realtors through the Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association, the Foreclosure Task Force, Colorado Blue Ribbon Panel, Housing Colorado and other organizations throughout Colorado, I believe has brought housing counseling into the front offices of many of our private sector partners.
Housing counseling has an immense impact on one family, one door, one community…
Charlotte O’Donnell is manages a HUD approved housing counseling program and underwriting down payment/closing cost assistance loans at Colorado Housing Assistance Corporation.