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May/June 2019, Volume 7 Issue 09

Oversight Priorities: Fiscal Year 2019

The Office of Housing Counseling is committed to ensuring that HUD-approved housing counseling agencies meet program standards, demonstrate good stewardship of federal funds, and provide quality counseling to consumers. In 2019, the Office of Housing Counseling is focusing on the following areas to strengthen the program, improve oversight, and reduce risk.

  • Ensure all local HUD-approved agencies receive a performance review within their three-year approval period. Agencies that apply to HUD’s Housing Counseling Program and meet approval criteria can be approved for up to three years. At the end of the approval period, the Office of Housing Counseling utilizes performance reviews as a part of its assessment to determine whether an agency will be reapproved. In the past, a small percentage of performance reviews were not completed prior to the expiration of the approval period. In FY 2019, we intend to conduct either on-site or remote performance reviews for local HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that have not received a performance review within the last three years. These reviews will be in addition to the performance reviews that are on track to be conducted for agencies that have their approval period expiring during FY 2019. In addition, the Office of Housing Counseling will continue our practice of conducting performance reviews of 10 percent of an intermediary or state housing finance agency’s affiliate network. We also expect HUD-approved intermediaries to regularly review their affiliates for compliance with HUD’s approval criteria.
     
  • Review and clarify required documentation for submitting a voucher request to HUD for payment under a housing counseling grant award. In FY 2019, the Office of Housing Counseling will review Federal and Departmental regulatory and HUD Housing Counseling Handbook 7610.1 requirements regarding this issue. We will revise program guidance, update training materials, and provide training opportunities to program participants. We welcome your input as we work to make the voucher payment process smoother for HUD and for the grantees.
     
  • Clarify documentation required during a performance review to demonstrate funds were used for eligible costs. During a performance review, an agency’s Point of Contact reviews source documentation related to grants management. In FY 2019, we will clarify and update requirements related to documentation of grant expenses and provide training to agencies.
     
  • Clarify procedures for agency withdrawal or termination from the Housing Counseling Program. The Office of Housing Counseling will work on clarifying program guidance to program participants regarding agency withdrawal and termination policies and procedures.
     
  • Implement the new Housing Counseling Agency Management System (HCAMS). HCAMS is a new online platform that will provide HUD with the ability to adequately oversee the work of its staff and track important housing counseling agency milestones. In FY 2019, the Office of Housing Counseling will implement the first module of HCAMS: an automated, streamlined performance review process. The first version will be for internal HUD use, but the Office of Housing Counseling’s goal is for HCAMS to be accessible eventually to program participants as well.
     
  • Revise and update standard operating procedures, handbook, and regulations. The Office of Housing Counseling is already in the process of updating its HUD Housing Counseling Handbook 7610.1. In FY 2019, we will continue this effort and develop and deliver training to agencies related to changes in procedures and policies. All handbook and regulatory changes will be published for formal notice and comment before the changes are effective. 

We look forward to updating you on these efforts this year. Please feel free to reach out at housing.counseling@hud.gov if you have any questions.

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