Housing & Social Services
Creating Pathways to Prosperity Through Homeownership
Call to Action Script for Application
Working Everyday To Provide Proper Access to Housing since 1973
The Housing Department represents a variety of programs to assist families in becoming successful homeowners. By utilizing comprehensive one-on-one counseling, credit enhancement and homebuyer education training, HAUL guides perspective homebuyers through the home-buying process step-by-step—from deciding whether homeownership is right for them to shopping for a home that meets the buyer’s needs, obtaining a home mortgage, closing the sale. Clients enter into the process with the hopes of fulfilling life long dreams of homeownership.
As the applicants start the process, they face barriers due to lack of savings, financial knowledge, lack of sophistication in the home buying process and poor credit scores. Our comprehensive approach provides a myriad of programs to move families into homeownership.
HAUL Housing Counselors address the entire process of homeownership. Topics covered include but are not limited to:
- The decision to purchase a home
- The selection and purchase of a home
- Issues arising during or affecting the period of ownership of a home (including financing, refinancing, default, and foreclosure, deed in lieu, forbearance agreements, short sale, modification or bring the mortgage currently by bringing the arrears current)
- The option of sale or other disposition of a home
FIRST TIME HOMEBUYERS
The First Time Homebuyers Workshop is designed to assist low to moderate-income families with the home buying process. Classes are in English and Spanish covering: recommendations regarding readiness and preparation for homeownership; FHA insured financing; housing selection and mobility; search assistance; budgeting and credit; loan product and feature comparison; purchase and closing and money management.
Pre-purchase Homebuyer Education Workshop and Pre-purchase/Home buying Counseling:
HAUL Housing Department assists clients in the First Time Homebuyer and Housing Program over a one-year period. Pre-purchase homebuyers are scheduled for an intensive six-hour group education and scheduled for a minimum of two hours optional one-on-one counseling. Credit Reports are pulled prior to the counseling session and are analyzed and reviewed with the client. If necessary, clients referred to more detailed credit enhancement services. As a final step in counseling, a certificate issued to the client and discussion regarding issues during the period of homeownership (financing the home, refinancing, mortgage default, foreclosure prevention, sale or transition from the home). Clients tracked through closing or to a resolution of the housing process. The curriculum utilized is Keys to Homeownership – 2nd Edition, National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Home Inspection materials are provided during the homebuyer education workshop to all clients expressing interest in purchasing a home and discussed during counseling. All clients sign and confirm receipt of Home Inspection materials, which is included in the client file.
Resolving or Preventing Mortgage Delinquency or Default service is a one-on one consultation provided to families in time of financial difficulty to prevent mortgage default and assist families facing foreclosure with alternative options. During the counseling session, regarding options available include (re-financing, default, foreclosure prevention, sale and transition from the home). Additional counseling options include loss mitigation, budgeting and credit; restructuring debt; and establish reinstatement plans. It may also include helping clients affected by predatory lending; foreclosure prevention strategies; explaining the foreclosure process; providing referrals to other sources.
Telephone Housing Counseling is provided as an alternative to cases in which the agency and the client mutually agree on the need for alternative settings due to disasters and rural areas. Housing Phone Assistance is an alternative to both emergency and non-emergencies.
FINANCIAL EDUCATION WORKSHOPS
Financial Education workshop educate families with basic money management skills, which include goal setting, understanding your money, developing and maintaining a budget, savings, credit / debit and credit management. The curriculum utilized is building Wealth, A Beginner’s guide to Securing Your financial Future, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
The Fair Housing Workshops/Fair Housing Initiative Program assists consumers in The City of Houston, Texas and the following counties: Harris, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Waller, Austin and Montgomery.
The program designed to address the Fair Housing Organizations Initiative Mortgage Rescue Component, conducting fair housing and lending workshops and community meetings. HAUL will advocate and provide direct assistance to victims of fair housing and fair lending laws that are a result of fraudulent or predatory mortgage rescue schemes. Houston Area Urban League will conduct group and individual housing counseling.
The Houston Area Urban League provides rental counseling in the following areas: budgeting and money management, review of credit report, information on the application process, available subsidies, and the difference between leasing and rental agreements. Additional information provided on typical expenses as a renter, how to properly communicate with your landlord, recovery of your security deposit, necessary maintenance and repairs, and the importance of understanding your rights and responsibilities as a renter.
The Financial Education and Credit Enhancement Pre-Purchase Program will allow homeowners or former homeowners to re-enter the mortgage market being more knowledgeable and mortgage ready. This housing counseling service will allow HAUL to reach a greater number of homeowners about to lose their home and will assist individuals and families in the process of buying a home by improving their credit worthiness by increasing their credit scores. The Financial Education program workshop scheduled one hour monthly at no charge to the client to address budgeting, saving, debt reduction and credit issues.
HAUL’s program provides Credit Analysis, which includes a comprehensive review of a client’s credit file, Credit Education which includes financial education covering removals of barriers to homeownership, budgeting, establishing and maintaining credit and shopping for a loan to purchase a home. Credit Enhancement provides additional credit repair counseling to bring potential borrowers up to standard based on area lender partner programs. Clients will receive 2 hours of orientation, 4 hours of Financial Education, and 8 hours of homebuyer education. Clients will receive optional 1 hour of one- on-one counseling and 1 hour of quarterly assessment counseling.
Credit Enhancement service is offered to First Time Homebuyers with credit blemishes and low credit scores (FICO Score) to achieve their dream of homeownership by participation in an extensive "one-on-one credit-counseling program to improve their credit rating within a specific time frame.
The Credit Enhancement Program is also available to other individuals and families, not currently in the process of buying a home, but interested in improving their credit worthiness by increasing their credit scores. Credit scores are a critical factor used by lending institutions in making loan approval.
HOMELESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The Houston Area Urban League provides case management to persons who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by preventing households from losing their home or returning to stable housing as quickly as possible. This loss may be due to nonpayment of rent or a mortgage due to the current economic or life crisis. Homeless Assistance this includes, but is not limited to information regarding emergency shelter; other emergency services; transitional housing, supportive services and limited financial assistance for related needs (rental, mortgage, utility and deposits).
POST PURCHASE HOME OWNERSHIP PROGRAM
Homebuyers are inundated with opportunities for new purchases and the suggestions of sales representatives to make immediate improvements, security, appliances and new car. When first time homebuyers are approved, we review budgets and make necessary adjustments to ensure the monthly bills are not exceeded, however within a twelve (12) month period, families can become vulnerable to default and foreclosure due to their lack of understanding of responsibilities associated with homeownership.
In order to be effective in this process, we need to provide a more comprehensive approach in order to reach families in a more proactive period. The process is implemented within 30 days of closing on their home. Housing counselors will continue to work with the client on a quarterly basis via telephone and/or email to discuss issues that homeowners face during a calendar year.
Counseling calls and/or emails may include but not limited to budget changes, pre-approved credit limits, new purchases, HOA fees, non-escrowed taxes, utility bills, etc. Utilizing the established relationship with the homeowner, Housing Counselors will be able to monitor and listen for any red flags. During one-on-one home visits, counselors discuss maintaining the home, which includes (re-financing, mortgage default, foreclosure prevention, sale and transition from the home). Additionally, collaborative partnerships have been established with local and national businesses such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Reliant Energy, TXU and County Appraisal Districts to provide onsite, quarterly training sessions to promote topics such as energy savings, DIY home repair, asset protection and taxes.
Financial Coaching takes a holistic approach to financial wellness with initial efforts on getting an understanding of the current situation, future financial plans and presents a comprehensive report to client; provides financial education and an understanding of the emotional ties with making financial decisions.
DISASTER HOUSING COUNSELING/CASE MANAGEMENT
HAUL provides referral, telephone counseling regarding FEMA application, documentation of loss, SBA application and Appeal, homeowners insurance claims, home inspection process, home repair information, fair housing rights, disaster preparedness and recovery information and registration for registering consumers for State of Texas Emergency Assistance as needed.
The primary goal of the Houston Area Urban League’s (HAUL) Housing and Community Services Department is to provide intensive one-on-one counseling and educational trainings, which provide the opportunity for individuals in low to moderate-income households to explore avenues for safe affordable housing through credit enhancement, homeownership, home preservation and responsible tenant practices.
The Financial Education Classes, Credit Counseling, First Time Homebuyer Workshop, Pre and Post Purchase and Default Counseling help promote economic development for low to moderate-income individuals that is less likely to obtain the tools necessary to build a strong financial future. The homeless prevention and rental assistance counseling also help to insure decent, housing for clients. The Housing Counseling Program offers counseling services in low to moderate-income
communities, in the Greater Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), to achieve the following objectives:
Educate the clients and demystify the entire home buying process.
First Time Homebuyer Workshop educates the prospective buyers on the necessary components to ensure that they can make an educated decision on not only the home buying process but also their financial future.
Improve client’s credit worthiness for the purpose of homeownership
HAUL offers a Credit Enhancement Program for clients with credit issues. HAUL educates clients and assists them with developing a knowledge of financial responsibility. Clients receive individualized counseling, which includes a thorough review of their tri-merged credit report, comprehensive explanation of how the credit report is comprised, methods to verify accuracy and suggestions of ways to improve their credit rating. Each client receives a written plan and
timeline for improvement. This program also includes a 90-day review and follow-up counseling.
Reduce the percentage of foreclosed clients
With foreclosures in Harris County increasing over the last year, HAUL recognizes this growing problem in the Houston area and offers mortgage default counseling delivered by HUD Certified Counselors. Counselors advocate and speak directly with mortgage companies on behalf of the client and work to make suitable payment arrangements or loan modifications agreements.
Financial Literacy Trainings held quarterly are part of the effort to further educate and empower individuals seeking homeownership as well as individuals receiving default and foreclosure prevention counseling. These trainings, currently offered in-house, will be offered at various community sites throughout the Houston Area focusing on the low to moderate-income areas.
Need help paying your utility bills?
Texas Utility Help is here for you.
Texas Utility Help can give financial assistance to qualified Texas homeowners and renters with low income. Eligible expenses include electricity, gas, propane, water, and wastewater.
Join us in any upcoming event. Throughout the year, we have various events that promote HAUL and its programs, initiatives to improve the lives of community members. To attend the next event, check out our program calendar today and sign up for the event of your choice.
Without our partners - individuals, organizations, corporations - we would not be able to assist underserved communities throughout the Houston area. Partner with us today and help us fulfill our mission of providing the tools towards economic self-reliance, power, and parity for underserved and historically marginalized communities. Thank you.
This program is supported by a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans’ Assistance. The Fund for Veterans’ Assistance provides grants to organizations serving veterans and their families. For more information, visit www.TVC.Texas.gov.