How does a housing counseling agency become HUD-approved?

Section 106(a)(2) of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 (12 USC 1701x) provides the legislative authority for HUD to provide housing counseling services directly or through private or public organizations with special competence and knowledge in counseling low- and moderate-income families.

Detailed information and additional requirements of the housing counseling program are provided in the Housing Counseling Program Handbook 7610.1 available at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/administration/hudclips/handbooks/hsgh

The handbook may also be requested by telephone weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. EST by calling (800) 767-7468.

The program handbook lists the qualifying criteria that all applicants must meet to receive HUD approval. A few of the more important are:
 
  • Nonprofit Status. The applicant must function as private or public nonprofit organization. The agency must submit evidence of nonprofit status as demonstrated by Section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code. 
  • Experience. The applicant must have successfully administered a housing counseling program for at least one year. 
  • Community Base. The applicant must have functioned for at least one year in the geographical area that the applicant proposes to serve. 
  • Counseling Resources. The applicant must have sufficient resources to implement its proposed counseling plan no later than the date of HUD approval. 
  • Agencies interested in applying to participate in the HUD Housing Counseling Program can use the Housing Counseling Agency Eligibility Tool to determine if your organization is ready to apply. The Tool allows organizations to determine if they meet the basic qualifying criteria to apply to become a HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency.  


Note: Effective August 1, 2020, all individuals providing housing counseling required under or provided in connection with HUD programs must be certified by taking and passing the HUD Certified Housing Counselor Examination.

After reviewing the qualifying criteria, agencies interested in applying must complete the form HUD-9900, Application for Approval as a Housing Counseling Agency, and email HUD at housing.counseling@hud.gov to schedule an appointment with an application advisor who will assist you.  Please type “Appointment with HUD housing counseling application advisor” in the subject line of your email.  The HUD application advisor will help explain the housing counseling program requirements, assist you with the application process and required documentation that you must submit for approval as a counseling agency.

The application will be reviewed within 45 days of receipt. If, after review of the application, HUD determines that the applicant may qualify as a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, a conference will be arranged before a final determination letter is issued.

Within 60 days, the applicant will be notified whether the application was approved or denied. If approved, a Letter of Approval will be sent to the applicant.

Agencies with questions about the status of their requests should contact the Office of Housing Counseling at housing.counseling@hud.gov with subject line New Application.


Additional information is available on the following websites:
  • Federal Register:https://www.federalregister.gov/
  • Docket Numbers:
  • FR-5339-F-03 - HUD’s Final Rule for Housing Counseling: New Certification Requirements
  • FR-5339-N-05 - Notice of Availability of the HUD Certified Housing Counselor Examination

All policy information contained in this knowledge base article is based upon the referenced HUD policy document. Any lending or insuring decisions should adhere to the specific information contained in that underlying policy document.


Topic Number: KA-02544