HUD Programs Covered by the Housing Counseling: New Certification Requirements Final Rule


HUD Publishes Final Rule to Amend Housing Counselor Certification Deadline to Ensure Vital Counseling Services Remain Available During COVID-19 National Emergency

HUD posted a Final Rule: Housing Counseling Program: Revision of the Certification Timeline to announce an amendment to the deadline for housing counselors to become HUD certified. The new final compliance date is August 1, 2021. The amendment is meant to ensure that vital housing counseling services remain available to the nation’s homebuyers and renters, particularly those who need housing and mortgage assistance to recover financially from the effects of the COVID-19 national emergency.

The Final Rule implements the requirement that all housing counseling required under or provided in connection with HUD programs, as defined in CFR § 5.111 (b), must be provided by HUD certified housing counselors that must work for agencies approved to participate in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program.

What is a HUD Certified Housing Counselor? A counselor who passed the HUD Housing Counselor Certification Exam + Works for a HUD-Approved Agency = HUD Certified Housing Counselor

There are many benefits to HUD’s Housing Counseling Program. Research consistently shows that counseled consumers have better outcomes (improving credit scores, avoiding foreclosure, increasing monthly savings) compared to similar consumers who are not counseled.

Looking for more background information about the Final Rule, resources for passing the certification exam, and how to begin the certification process? View Everything You Need to Know about Certification.

Is your organization providing housing counseling?

Many HUD-funded organizations are delivering housing counseling around the country. Organizations need to determine which of the services being delivered are considered housing counseling, and which are not.

What is housing counseling (CFR § 5.100)? Housing Counseling is independent, expert advice customized to the needs of the consumer to address the consumer’s housing barriers and to help achieve their housing goals. It must include the following elements: intake, client budget, financial and housing affordability analysis, a client action plan, and a reasonable effort to follow-up with client.

What is not housing counseling?

  • Services that provide only housing information, or placement or referral services
  • Routine administrative activities (e.g., program eligibility determinations, intake, case management)
  • Case management that provides housing services as incidental to a larger case management and does not fund housing counseling
  • Fair housing advice and advocacy (e.g. processing complaints and filing claims)
  • Group education without individualized housing counseling services

NOTE: Some organizations may have staff that do not deliver housing counseling directly, and as a result do not need to be HUD certified.

Which HUD Programs are covered by the Housing Counseling Final Rule?

If you are a grantee or sub-grantee of a HUD program covered by the final rule, you must comply by the Final Compliance Date or choose one of the alternative options shown at the bottom of this page.

The resources below provide a high-level overview of which programs may be covered by the final rule and how they could be affected.

Click on the green buttons below to understand how each HUD program may be affected by the Certification Final Rule.

Please Note: This page only includes active programs. Programs that are not included (e.g., Back to Work) may be added in the future if they become re-authorized.

Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) Programs

FHA Single Family Mortgage Insurance Program

Public and Indian Housing (PIH) Programs

Indian CDBG and Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) Programs

Please note that the certification requirement will undergo tribal consultation before applying to these programs. OHC will update this page once the final rule has gone into effect for these programs.

My program is affected by the final rule. What do I do?

Entities participating in covered HUD programs that are not currently part of HUD’s Housing Counseling program may choose to either:

  1. Partner with existing Housing Counseling Agencies (HCAs) to deliver services and/or modify their programs to comply with this rule. To partner with an existing HCA, search for HCAs in your area. Examples of how to comply with the rule are included under the specific programs listed on this page.
  2. Become a HUD-approved HCA through HUD’s Housing Counseling Program. The Housing Counseling Agency Eligibility Tool can help you learn the eligibility requirements and whether or not you meet them. There are two ways to participate in HUD's Housing Counseling Program:
    1. 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. Apply through a HUD-approved 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.

More Information and Resources

  1. Familiarize yourself with HUD's housing counseling program by taking the Intro to Housing Counseling course.
  2. Review the guidance in the Other HUD Programs Covered under HUD's Final Rule for Housing Counseling Certification document.
  3. Get to know the information and resources on the Everything You Need to Know about Certification page.
  4. Browse the Housing Counseling FAQ database, especially the Requirements on Other Specific HUD Programs topic.