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Community Based Services

Money Management, Budgeting and Credit- The counselor along with the client must first do an assessment of the client's present financial situation. The counselor then assists the client in formulating a budget. The counselor also helps the client to prioritize his/her expenditures. Once an acceptable budget is formed, the client is then taught how to reduce expenses. Finally, the client is encouraged to put a priority on saving money and utilizing various savings vehicles (i.e. credit unions or bank savings account, CD, mutual fund, IRA, etc.).

Counselors review clients' credit reports to get an overview of the clients' credit situation. The counselor explains the various codes, installment vs. revolving accounts, dispute process, credit scores, secured vs. unsecured debt, etc. The counselor then explains how to establish and maintain creditworthiness.

Post-Purchase Occupancy Counseling for First-Time Homebuyers- Post-occupancy services provide ongoing counseling support to clients that have purchased homes. The primary goal of post-occupancy counseling is to ensure that the homeownership experience is a successful one, and to make sure ULS clients are prepared to handle the responsibilities of routine and preventative repairs and maintenance. Post-occupancy counseling entails providing information to homeowners about home maintenance, seasonal upkeep and energy conservation. Providing continual assistance, budgeting and financial planning, in an effort to prevent defaults and foreclosures. The objective is to show new homeowners how to keep their homes, protect their investment, and manage the new expenses and responsibilities of homeownership.

Mortgage Delinquency and Default- The counselor assesses clients' current mortgage situation. The cause of the delinquency is ascertained. The counselor then begins to devise a strategy to bring the client current. They will discuss the loss mitigation tools that are available and negotiate a payment plan with the lender. Counselors have a very high rate of success, but can explain all available options to clients. Counselors are there to provide guidance for clients every step of the way.

If predatory lending is involved, counselors make referrals to attorneys and agencies charged with serving seniors, a particular target of such loans. A loan is predatory if the loan terms are unfair, fees are excessive and interest rates offered exceed a borrower’s ability to repay, or higher than what a borrower’s credit will allow. Predatory loans strip borrowers of their home equity and can lead to foreclosure.

Reverse Equity Mortgages (HECM)- University Legal Services provides counseling for HUD's Reverse Equity Mortgage program (Section 255) known as HECM. HECM stands for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. This loan is a federally-insured loan designed to enable seniors 62 years and older to convert the equity in their properties into income. Many seniors use this program to supplement social security, pay off credit card debt or medical expenses, do home repairs, travel and whatever else they deem necessary.

The senior who receives a HECM loan can choose among various payment options. They may receive their funds in a lump sum payment, a line of credit, set monthly payments over their lifetime (tenure plan), receive a certain amount over a set number of years until the funds are exhausted (term plan), or a combination of the line of credit with the term or tenure plan.

The HECM loan has no income or credit requirements. The borrowers' only responsibilities are to occupy the property as the primary residence, maintain homeowner’s insurance and keep all real property taxes current. The proceeds from the loan are not taxable, and there is no repayment obligation until the borrower is deceased or is no longer residing in the property. At that time, the estate or heirs may repay the loan by selling the home or refinancing the mortgage.

The ULS Housing Counselor is responsible for educating the senior on the functions of the HECM loan and also any available alternatives. ULS does not provide or process HECM loan applications. It is the responsibility of the borrower to select a lender for their loan. ULS can help with this.

University Legal Services provides every potential borrower with a Certificate of HECM Counseling. This is a HUD requirement before obtaining a HECM loan.

Rental Counseling- University Legal Services housing counseling staff assist clients in resolving problems which may prevent or delay renting an apartment and to answer any questions pertaining to the rental process. Counselors also assist clients with questions about tenancy and are familiar with D.C. laws related to residential tenancies. Experienced Housing Counselors provide information on government and private rental programs, and provide financial analysis, money management and budget counseling. Workshops are held at ULS, where information regarding affordable housing and Section 8 rental assistance is presented to clients.

ULS Counselors work with clients who are homeless assisting them in locating housing and making referrals for other assistance they may need.

Counselors are trained to spot issues relating to Fair Housing and can advise clients as to their rights. Counselors work with ex-offenders who are returning to the District and are in need of housing. Counselors reach out to the landlords who are happy to provide housing to clients who are assisted by skilled housing counselors.

Eviction Counseling – In the unfortunate event of a pending eviction, Counselors work with clients to ensure they are fully aware of D.C. laws related to eviction. Oftentimes evictions can be stopped when a ULS Counselor becomes involved and is able to negotiate with the landlord or refer the client to needed resources. If an eviction occurs, counselors work with clients to ensure they are aware of storage options, or other housing options

Single Family Residential Rehabilitation Program/Handicapped Accessibility Improvement Program (SFRRP/HAIP)- University Legal Services administers the Single Family Residential Rehabilitation Program through the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The programs primary purpose is to assist residents of the District with addressing much needed home repair problems such as: leaky roofs, holes in walls, lead-based paint hazards, and accessibility for persons with mobility or other physical impairments. The program will not make any luxury improvements or cosmetic repairs.

The Single Family Residential Rehabilitation Program offers various types of financial assistance to meet applicant's financial needs. There are amortizing loans which must be paid back immediately, deferred loans which are not paid back immediately, and in such cases as lead-based paint abatement, a $30,000 grant to remove the lead-based paint hazards.

University Legal Services’ primary function is to assist and educate our clients on the functions of the SFRRP. Our role is to explain the program’s operations and requirements, collect the required application materials, and provide training related to home maintenance repair. ULS does not process any of the applications as they are forwarded to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development for review.

Upon completion of the SFRRP, your counselor will always be available to assist you with any questions or concerns.


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