Special Initiatives and Partnerships

As part of its mission to support housing counseling agencies (HCAs), HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) seeks partnerships and innovative approaches to expanding and enhancing housing counseling services, the housing counseling workforce, and ultimately, outcomes for clients.

Student Internship Program is an initative that will help identify opportunities to collaborate between university campuses, legal service organizatons and HUD participating HCAs to avert evictions throughout the nation.

Partnering with Minority Serving Institutions is an initative that will support HUD-approved HCAs to play a strong role in advancing racial equity that can demonstrate their status as a Historically Black College or University, Tribal College or University.

Student Internship Program

In October 2021, HUD met with officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to discuss opportunities for universities, legal service organizations, and HUD-participating HCAs to work together to prevent evictions. This initiative stemmed from the significant rise in evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. OHC volunteered to take the lead in a program that places law students at HCAs.

In October 2022, OHC expanded the scope of the program include university students engaged in other fields of study such as social work, sociology, nonprofit administration, community development, and other fields. To learn more about SIP, read about a recent legal internship success story between St. John’s University Law School and Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE).

Objectives

  • HCAs and their clients benefit from a range of student expertise to augment services and organizational capacity
  • Student interns gain marketable skills in housing counseling, nonprofit administration, and community-based service provision
  • Student interns spread awareness of housing counseling as they move into professional careers
  • Universities and HCAs establish mutually beneficial long-term relationships

For questions about this program, please contact OHC at housing.counseling@hud.gov.

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Interested HCAs must abide by the following criteria:

  • HCAs must be engaged in eviction prevention, foreclosure prevention, homeless assistance, or related housing counseling services.
  • If an HCA intends to host a law student, they must have an in-house attorney who will actively mentor the student. If the HCA does not have an in-house attorney, they must have a partnership with legal services organization that can provide mentorship while the agency serves as employer and supervisor.
  • HCAs must make the student a temporary employee. Temporary employee status allows the student to access training scholarships and to be compensated using HUD grant funds.

The roles and responsibilities of HCAs, universities, and OHC SIP Coordinators are identified below:

HCAs are responsible for:

  • Writing a job description for recruiting interns
  • Ensuring intern completes and submits reporting document to OHC
  • Day-to-day supervision of intern
  • Completing off-boarding survey for OHC
  • Providing a legal professional as mentor if hosting a law student intern (Note: Formal documentation of the partnership between the HCA and any external legal professional should be developed when hosting a law student intern.)

Universities are responsible for:

  • Attending planning meetings with OHC and the HCA
  • Promoting job description to students and assisting with recruiting efforts
  • Monitoring student intern to ensure activities are fulfilling any requirements by the university program

OHC SIP Coordinators are responsible for:

  • Identifying and conducting outreach to potential HCA and university participants
  • Scheduling and facilitating meetings between HCAs and universities (and legal services agency if applicable)
  • Reviewing job descriptions and adding language about training as applicable
  • Holding an onboarding meeting with intern
  • Scheduling periodic check-in calls with intern and supervisor
  • Providing training plan to intern and informing them of subsequent trainings as they become available
  • Contacting TNOFO partners and coordinating scholarships for trainings as needed
  • Provide information on certification
  • Forwarding intern reporting document to OHC leadership
  • Creating products such as articles/webinars to create awareness and promote SIP
  • Conducting separate exit interviews with HCA and students at the end of the internship
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Identify and Contact Potential Partner

Universities and HCAs should identify potential partners and then reach out to the appropriate contact to introduce the program, gauge interest, and determine:

  • HCA eligibility; or
  • The university's internship requirements

Universities and HCAs should use the following tools to locate potential partners:

  • To find universities, use Google Maps to search for universities within close proximity of your agency and find contact information of universities
  • To find HCAs, use the HCA Locator Tool to search by location and service type
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Develop Partnership Scope

The university and the HCA should schedule a meeting to determine:

  • The timeline of the internship
  • The activities the intern will perform
    • Will the intern support housing counseling services of the agency?
    • Do the activities lend experience and learning opportunities useful to the student’s goals?
    • Do the activities fit within requirements on the university’s internship rules?
    • For examples of activities interns who are not yet HUD certified can perform, view the Six Steps for Supporting Non-Certified Counselors: A Training Plan.
  • The hours or days the student will work
  • The compensation of the student, if applicable. Note, HUD grant funds can be used for intern compensation.
  • The training the intern will receive
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Create Intern Job Description

If both parties are in general agreement to the terms of the partnership, a job description will be created.

  • HCA drafts the document
  • OHC reviews document and adds language about training opportunities
  • University reviews and approves final document
  • University shares job description with students

Partnering with Minority Serving Institutions

The FY 2021 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is providing funding to HCAs that demonstrate partnerships with Minority Serving institutions (MSIs). This fact sheet provides more information about the funding available and tips for HCAs looking to partner.

What is an MSI?

A federally recognized Title IV college or university – based on either historical origin or the percentage of enrolled minorities at a particular institution. Historically Black College or Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges are just two types among the total of seven different categories of MSIs. Online searchable databases are available from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Education.

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Under the FY 2021 NOFO, HUD awarded $3,000,000 to eligible HUD-approved HCAs partnering with HBCUs and other MSIs.

HUD awarded up to $250,000 to each recipient for its partnership (and/or partnership of a subgrantee) with an HBCU or other MSIs, along with up to $150,000 for each additional partnership (and/or partnership of a subgrantee) with an HBCU or other MSI. Additional information about the NOFO can be found on Grants.gov.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants who requested funds:

  1. Submitted evidence of the college or university’s status as an HBCU/MSI.
  2. Submitted a letter certifying that a partnership is in place or that there is an intent to enter a partnership.
  3. Had the letter signed by the Applicant and an authorizing official of the HBCU or other MSI.

There are a number of benefits from this partnership – to the college or university, to the housing counseling agency, and to the entire community. The following are just a few reasons to partner:

  • Creates direct access point to a pool of clients who need education and housing counseling services (e.g., students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and the surrounding community)
  • Addresses the history of racial inequity in housing and academic programming
  • Creates a pipeline of future homeowners
  • Establishes a foundation for generational wealth building among people of color

Partnerships can be structured using a variety of approaches. Here are three examples of the types of partnerships some HCAs have created:

  1. Services that elevate MSI students’ financial skills and teaches them about money management, the importance of maintaining good credit, and wealth building.
  2. Programs that offer renter and/or homebuyer education and counseling specifically to MSI staff, students, and the surrounding community.
  3. Internships or practicums that expose students to housing counseling fundamentals with a goal of recruiting new housing counselors to the workforce.