If a housing counseling activity is administered in compliance with the requirements of this housing counseling certification rule, does that mean the activity will no longer be subject to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program’s 15% cap on public services activities?
Date Published: June 2017
No. The housing counseling certification rule will not affect what activities are eligible as a public service and thus subject to the public services cap. The same housing counseling activities currently included under the public services cap will continue to be included under the cap when the housing counseling certification rule is implemented. The only difference will be that housing counseling (as defined at 24 CFR 5.100) will need to be conducted by HUD certified housing counselors, working for an agency approved to participate in HUD’s Housing Counseling program, as of August 1, 2020, the final compliance date for certification.
Stand-alone housing counseling activities, and other types of housing information and education services (some of which heretofore may have been called “housing counseling” by grantees) have always come under the public services cap and will continue to come under the cap. Similarly, housing counseling (or other types of housing information and education services) which are provided as part of the activity delivery for Homeownership Assistance (not direct), are eligible as a public service activity and so are subject to the 15% cap. In contrast, housing counseling, or other types of housing information and education services, may be provided as part of the activity delivery costs for specific types activities that do not come under the public services cap. For example, housing counseling for potential homebuyers may be included as part of the activity delivery costs for Direct Homeownership Assistance activities or for Housing Services activities in support of the HOME program; grantees might provide basic home maintenance information or financial literacy training as part of a housing rehabilitation program. Housing counseling or other housing information and education services undertaken as part of one of those activities does not come under the public services cap.