The National Housing Resource Center is traveling across the country this month inviting members of Congress to meet with local housing counseling agencies.
The center, based in Philadelphia, is an advocate for the nonprofit housing counseling community. It’s goal this summer is to make government leaders aware of what these agencies do and to hear for themselves the heartbreaking foreclosure and happy homeowner success stories.
Last week, David Valadao, R-Hanford, attended a one-hour roundtable discussion at the Community Housing Council of Fresno’s northwest Fresno office. The council is a HUD-certified agency that provides foreclosure counseling and homeownership education to residents from Merced to Tulare counties.
The small organization has three counselors, an executive director who also works with clients and an office administrator.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is to get the word out” about our agency, said executive director John Shore.
Five years ago, the council dealt mostly with mortgage default problems, Shore told Valadao. Now, the agency is “busy on both sides” helping Valley residents understand their finances to buy a home and helping those who can’t keep up on mortgage payments due to a job loss or other circumstances, Shore said.
While the housing market has improved, 10 to 15 families still attend foreclosure workshops every week, he said. The agency recently helped a Clovis homeowner get a $79,000 principal reduction on her mortgage through the Keep Your Home California program, he said. Several Valley homeowners have received principal reductions with the largest amount being about $91,000.
A housing counselor from Community Services Employment Training, or CSET in Visalia, also attended with three clients who shared their stories. CSET is Tulare County’s community action agency working to reduce poverty. It provides education, training, jobs and helps residents with housing issues.