How to Become a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency

Organizations interested in participating in HUD's Housing Counseling Program to provide counseling services must be either: 1) a private or public nonprofit organization or 2) a state or local government. For-profit entities are not eligible to become HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agencies (HCAs).

The HUD Approval Process Overview shows the steps in becoming a HUD-approved HCA.

There are two ways to participate in HUD's Housing Counseling Program:

  1. Organizations may apply directly to HUD as one of the following: a Local Housing Counseling Agency (LHCA), an Intermediary (regional or national), a multi-state organization (MSO), or as a state housing finance agency (SHFA).
  2. LHCAs can also apply through a HUD participating Intermediary or SHFA. Intermediaries and SHFAs provide LHCAs with critical supportive services, including training, tools and templates, pass-through funding, and technical assistance. They also monitor their networks to ensure services meet program standards and effectively meet the needs of their clients.

Qualifying Criteria

Section 106(a)(2) of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 (12 USC 1701x) provides the legislative authority for HUD to provide housing counseling services directly or through private or public organizations with special competence and knowledge in counseling low and moderate income families.

Detailed information and additional requirements of the housing counseling program are provided in the Housing Counseling Program Handbook 7610.1 The program handbook lists the qualifying criteria that all applicants must meet to receive HUD approval. A few of the more important are:

  1. Nonprofit Status. The applicant must function as private or public nonprofit organization. The agency must submit evidence of nonprofit status as demonstrated by Section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  2. Certification. As of August 1, 2021, agencies applying for approval to HUD’s Comprehensive Housing Counseling Program must have a housing counselor that has passed the HUD Housing Counselor Certification Exam prior to application submission.
  3. Experience. The applicant must have successfully administered a housing counseling program for at least one year.
  4. Community Base. The applicant must have functioned for at least one year in the geographical area that the applicant proposes to serve.
  5. Counseling Resources. The applicant must have sufficient resources to implement its proposed counseling plan no later than the date of HUD approval.

Instructions for Submitting Applications to HUD for Approval

Please use the Housing Counseling Agency Eligibility Tool to determine if your organization is ready to apply. The Tool allows organizations to determine if they meet the basic qualifying criteria to apply to become a HUD-approved HCA. Organizations that receive a “ready to apply” result at the end of the tool can move onto notifying HUD.

Please email HUD to schedule an appointment with an application advisor who will assist you. Please type "Appointment with HUD housing counseling application advisor" in the subject line of your email. The HUD application advisor will help explain the housing counseling program requirements, assist you with the application process and required documentation that you must submit for approval as a counseling agency.

HUD’s goal is to complete your application review within 90 days. However, if documents are incomplete, or missing from your application, or if other issues arise during the process, it could take longer. Please read these Frequently Asked Questions. Please contact your application advisor or email HUD if you have any questions.

All of the documents listed below must be included in the application. Agencies applying for HUD approval will submit all of their application documents electronically. All applicants must submit each item as an individual file in Adobe PDF or MS-Word document format. Each document must be labeled as indicated below. Your application advisor will provide you with information for electronic application submission.

  1. Form HUD-9900 Application (Posted 05/10/2021 | Expires 04/30/2024). Complete both the PDF application and Attachment A:
  2. Documentation of 501(c)
  3. Eligibility documents for government entities (if applicable)
  4. Charter/By-Laws
  5. Conflict of Interest Policy and Procedures and HUD Disclosure to Clients
  6. Other HUD Programs (If applicable, list the other HUD program(s) in which you are currently participating, the name of the Point of Contact (POC) and contact information)
  7. List of housing counselor(s) and evidence of passing HUD Housing Counselor Certification Examination
  8. Housing Counseling Work Plan
  9. HUD-9902 (Complete sections 8 and 9 to quantify the households who received counseling and education services from your agency during the past 12-month period)
  10. Written Agreements (If applicable, agencies with branches, sub-grantees/sub-recipients and/or affiliates must provide written agreements which delineate the responsibilities)
  11. Budget and Funding Sources
  12. Most Recent Audited Financial Statement
  13. Facility Information/Photos



Are You Ready to Apply?

Housing Counseling Agency Eligibility Tool



Download Tool Questions as a PDF