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The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has named 12 persons who will constitute the first-ever Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee (HCFAC). Established under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, this Advisory Panel will help HUD's Office of Housing Counseling improve upon all the efforts to provide consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed and lasting housing decisions.
The Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee will explore new opportunities to expand access to HUD housing counseling programs, develop new innovative strategies to support community-based counseling agencies, and identify methods to leverage our resources to amplify the impact of federally funded housing counseling. This panel will also develop new metrics to evaluate the health and capacity of the housing counseling industry, specifically in the context of disaster recovery and identify ways to improve the use of technology in housing counseling.
By teaching consumers basic principles of housing and money management, HUD's network of approximately 2,000 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies help families to improve their financial situation, address their current housing needs, and pursue their housing and financial goals over time. Housing counselors increase awareness of both rights and responsibilities of homeownership and rental tenancy, addressing fundamental concepts such as anti-discrimination laws, the types of ownership and tenancy, budgeting, affordability calculations, maintenance and upkeep responsibilities, eviction and homelessness prevention, and where to get help when future housing challenges arise. Housing counselors provide support to households facing unemployment, finding and maintaining housing after returning from military deployment, or moving their families because their current housing situation is unsustainable.
In April 2015, HUD solicited nominations to serve on the first-ever federal advisory committee. Those selected hail from among mortgage, real estate, consumer and housing counseling sectors. They are as follows:
1. Pamela Marron from New Port Richey, Fla.
2. Linda Ayres from Las Vegas
3. José Larry Garcia from El Paso, Texas
Real estate sector
4. E.J. Thomas from New Albany, Ohio
5. Cassie Hicks from Hattiesburg, Miss.
6. Alejandro Becerra from Silver Springs, Md.
7. Afreen Alam from Long Island, New York
8. Meg Burns from Arlington, Va.
9. Ellie Pepper from the New York State in Schenectady, N.Y.
Housing counseling sector
10. Judy Hunter from Sacramento, Calif.
11. Arthur Zeman from St. Louis, Mo.
12. Terri Redmond from Hummelstown, Penn.
A very special thanks to those who provided me with a personal letter of recommendation, including U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis; U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson; National Consumer Reporting Association (NCRA) Executive Director Terry Clemans; Joe Cvelbar, director of Consolidated Credit; Joel M. Berman, CEO of NMP Media Corp.; Frank Pallotta, founder of Steel Curtain Capital Group LLC; Marianne Opt, vice president of Towne Mortgage; Samantha Hay from Carrington Mortgage; Roxanne Amato and Lorraine Seddon with Future Home Realty; Diane Chism from Smith and Associates; and homeowners I have worked with on housing issues.
I am deeply honored to be part of this Committee and look forward to working alongside my peers in the mortgage, real estate, consumer and counseling industries. All of us have a connection and strong desire to assist homebuyers attain what is still the American dream to many. What has been learned from those who have endured through this difficult housing downturn has changed the way I will do business for the rest of my career.
Can’t wait to roll our sleeves up and get started!
Pam Marron (NMLS#: 246438) is senior loan originator with Innovative Mortgage Services Inc. (NMLS#: 250769) in Tampa Bay, Fla. She may be reached by phone at (727) 375-8986, e-mail Pam.M.Marron@gmail.com or visit HousingCrisisStories.com, CloseWithPam.com or 8Problems.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.