Housing Counseling Program Overview

HUD’s Housing Counseling Program provides support to a nationwide network of housing counseling agencies (HCAs). These agencies provide information, advice, and tools for consumers seeking, financing, maintaining, renting, or owning a home. Agencies also assist those facing homelessness and homeowners in need of foreclosure assistance. HUD certifies every housing counselor delivering services at HUD-approved HCAs across the country.

This page is designed to provide an overview of the Housing Counseling Program’s history and applicable resources for housing counselors, their agency managers and leadership as well as other stakeholders.


Browse the following links to get an overview of the program by topic:

Technical Guidance

Program Regulations: 24 CFR Part 214 implements the Housing Counseling Program authorized by Section 106 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, as amended (12 U.S.C. 1701x). The program is guided by the Housing Counseling Program Handbook (HUD Handbook 7610.1 REV-5). The program is administered by HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling - Federal Housing Administration.

Note: HUD pays only part of the costs of an agency’s counseling activities, so grantees need to leverage their HUD grant with funding from other resources.

Housing Counseling Program Milestones

HUD's Housing Counseling Program provides counseling to consumers on seeking, financing, maintaining, renting, or owning a home. The program also addresses homelessness through counseling and assists homeowners in need of foreclosure assistance. Counseling is provided by HUD certified housing counselors who are employed by HUD-approved housing counseling agencies (HCAs).

Explore the following Housing Counseling Program Milestones to discover how the program has evolved over the years and delve into the impact housing counseling has on communities.


August 1968

HUD’s Housing Counseling Program Created

HUD’s Housing Counseling Program was created through the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968.

May 2010

Housing Counseling Handbook Published

The HUD Housing Counseling Handbook 7610.1 REV-5 defined Housing Counseling as providing, “counseling and advice to tenants and homeowners with respect to property maintenance, financial management, and such other matters as may be appropriate to assist them in improving their housing conditions and in meeting the responsibilities of tenancy or homeownership.” The Handbook also establishes that the Housing Counseling Program can provide Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) counseling to mortgagors to achieve the requirement that they must receive, “adequate counseling by a third party (other than the lender).”

July 2010

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Passed

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act established the independent Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) and made counselor certification a requirement.

June 2012

Competitive Award Process Began and OHC Field Offices Opened

OHC began awarding grants to HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agencies and State Housing Finance Agencies through a competitive process and opened with a presence in 24 HUD Field Offices.

January 2016

Housing Counseling Website Launched on the HUD Exchange

The HUD Exchange Housing Counseling program Technical Assistance (TA) website launched.

November 2016

Advisory Committee Convened

The first Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee (HCFAC) meeting convened. HCFAC in comprised of industry experts that aim to increase access and awareness of housing counseling services.

December 2016

Housing Counseling Certification Requirements Final Rule Published

HUD published the Housing Counseling Certification Requirements Final Rule. This rule implements statutory requirements that housing counseling required under or provided in connection with all HUD programs must be provided by HUD certified Housing Counselors.

August 2018

Housing Counseling Program Celebrated 50-Year Anniversary

HUD’s Housing Counseling Program celebrated 50 years of supporting HCAs and stakeholders across the country that help renters, homeowners, and homebuyers in reaching their housing goals.

April 2020

Housing Counseling Program Outcome Data Displays Launched

The Housing Counseling Program Outcome Data Displays launched. The 9902 Data Displays are dynamic, interactive dashboards presenting data on services provided by HUD-approved agencies, from the HUD-9902 Housing Counseling Activity Report.

August 2021

Over 3,500 Housing Counselors Became HUD Certified

Housing counselors across the country complied with the Final Rule by becoming HUD certified by August 1, 2021. Recognizing this achievement of the housing counselors, the hashtag campgaign #HUDCertifiedProud, was launched.

June 2022

New Housing Counseling Locator Tool Launched

Housing Counseling Locator Tool and 1-800-569-4287 locator line launched with language access, allowing consumers and other services providers to easily find and access local housing counseling services.

August 2022

$490 Million Awarded to HCAs and Training Partners

HCAs and Training Partners awarded $490 million since 2013.

February 2023

Housing Counseling Today Launched

The Housing Counseling Today blog went live on the HUD Exchange. The new blog superseded The Bridge Newsletter, the Housing Counseling Program online newsletter. The first issue of the Bridge launched in 2012.


Key activities of HUD’s Housing Counseling Program include:

  • Housing Counselor Certification: HUD administers the Housing Counselor Certification Exam, to ensure the nation’s housing counselors are knowledgeable about housing issues facing consumers.
  • Housing Counseling Agency Approval: HUD reviews and approves HCAs and oversees their compliance with program guidelines and counseling standards.
  • Outreach and Capacity Building: HUD spreads the word about housing counseling and provides training and technical assistance to HCAs.
  • Grant Funding: Comprehensive Housing Counseling grants support HCA service delivery. Training Partner grants support organizations that provide training to boost the knowledge and competency of housing counselors.

HCA housing counseling services can include both group education and one-on-one counseling. One-on-one housing counseling always includes an assessment of a consumer’s individual financial situation, creation of a household budget, and an action plan that helps the consumer reach their self-identified housing goal. Housing counseling is often delivered in support of other HUD Housing Programs, such as HOME homebuyer assistance or CDBG-DR housing recovery. Most services are provided free of charge, or for an affordable fee, with no income restrictions. Counseling topics include:

  • Homeless assistance: Providing information regarding emergency shelter, transitional housing, and other emergency services.
  • Rental Topics: Providing housing search assistance and education about HUD rental and rent subsidy programs, other federal, state and local assistance, fair housing, landlord tenant laws, and dealing with rent delinquency.
  • Prepurchase/Homebuying: Educating potential homebuyers on readiness to purchase, financing options, fair housing and predatory lending, purchase procedures, and closing costs.
  • Maintaining Homeownership: Advising homeowners about sustaining homeownership through budgeting, use of home equity, home improvement and repair, energy efficiency, managing tenants, and more.
  • Resolving Mortgage Delinquency or Default: Assisting homeowners who are behind on their mortgage with loss mitigation and foreclosure prevention.
  • Reverse Mortgage: Housing Counselors with a special Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) certification assist seniors considering a reverse mortgage to purchase or preserve ownership of a home.
  • Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Assistance: Assisting homeowners with disaster preparedness and recovery, including helping homeowners understand and access housing recovery resources and assess their housing options.

Only HUD-approved housing counseling agencies and participating State Housing Finance Agencies are eligible to apply for Housing Counseling grants. To become HUD-approved, an agency must contact OHC to confer about the agency's eligibility and submit an application for approval. Grantees must file quarterly invoices, mid-term performance reports, and a final report. OHC reviews the performance of each agency to evaluate whether the agency can keep its HUD approved status.


HUD publishes its Housing Counseling Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in the Federal Register and on its Funds Available page. To apply, the agency must use the Grants.gov electronic application system. HUD evaluates applications and issues grant agreements to successful applicants. Applicants may appeal a grant denial or amount to HUD.