Proposed rule seeks to expand Tribal participation in HUD-approved housing counseling by removing unique impediments to counselor certification.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Housing Counseling is announcing today that it published a proposed rule in the Federal Register outlining housing counselor certification requirements for housing counseling conducted in connection with the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) and the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) programs. When final, HUD expects that the rule will help expand the number of certified housing counselors serving Tribal communities.
“This proposed rule is important to strengthening the participation of Tribes and Tribal organizations in HUD’s housing counseling program,” said Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon. “Having counselors who understand the unique needs of those residing in Tribal communities will help increase access to homeownership for Tribes whose members have long been underserved by the mortgage market.”
When Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, it required that all housing counseling conducted under HUD programs be carried out by HUD-certified housing counselors. In furtherance of HUD’s government-to-government relationship with Tribal Nations, HUD delayed the applicability of this certification requirement to HUD’s Native American Housing Programs so that it could conduct consultation with Tribal leaders. This consultation was to ensure that the unique needs and conditions of Tribal Nations were considered in HUD’s execution of its certification responsibilities under the Dodd-Frank statute.
The proposed rule was developed following multiple Tribal consultation and listening sessions where Tribes provided input and feedback on HUD’s existing housing counselor certification requirements and the ways in which they should be tailored to meet Tribal needs.
“It is thanks to the outstanding partnership with HUD’s Office of Native American Programs and the strong engagement by Tribal representatives during the consultation sessions that we have arrived at a set of proposals to more fully integrate the unique needs of Tribal entities into our housing counseling certification and approval processes,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing Counseling David Berenbaum.
Based upon feedback received from Tribal entities, HUD is proposing to:
- Adjust certain components of HUD’s current housing counselor certification exam specifically for Tribes, including adjustments for distinctions in fair housing laws pertaining to Tribes and the unique status of trust land;
- Recommend additional training for counselors who become certified to provide housing counseling for the IHBG and ICDBG programs;
- Modify study materials for housing counselor certification examinations to account for tailored content specific to Tribes; and
- Require that housing counseling that is funded with or provided in connection with IHBG or ICDBG funds is performed by individuals who are HUD certified.
HUD is encouraging public comments on the proposed rule through March 27, 2023, via the submission methods outlined in the Federal Register. HUD intends to conduct additional Tribal consultation before issuing a final rule in the future.