The Northern Marianas Housing Corp. held a housing counseling session last Tuesday, Jan. 11, for 25 individuals who were approved for the CDBG-DR housing program assistance.
As per the HUD CDBG-DR (Disaster Recovery) program requirements, approved borrower(s) or mortgage loan applicant(s) must undergo and complete housing counseling before moving forward with the housing assistance.
Tuesday’s counseling session was the latest batch of NMHC’s continued process toward its CDBG-DR housing implementation projects. Since April 2021 to date, NMHC has counseled and certified approximately 230 individuals for the DR housing program.
As the housing agency continues its program implementation on DR housing projects, it has been met with challenges due to the high demand and volume of applications that the program has received. Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic and safety protocols, it was necessary to make some adjustments as to how the housing counseling sessions are to be conducted.
Housing counseling sessions are scheduled at least a week ahead and are normally performed on a one-on-one basis, but due to the high volume of approved applicants, it was necessary to streamline the process into group sessions in order to keep pace with project movement, as well as to prevent unexpected delays.
Last Tuesday’s group housing counseling was a first-time hybrid session, conducted in combination of in-person and virtual learning. Because of the recent increases in COVID-19 infections and community spread, it was necessary to downsize the in-person class into a small group of about 15 attendees but paired it with the virtual group meeting of 10 participants.
The modifications to a hybrid approach has proven to be successful and the agency looks to continue with this workaround in future counseling sessions to come.
NMHC’s housing counseling group sessions are conducted by Chris Pangelinan, mortgage manager; Leilani Manibusan, DR loan supervisor; and Jennifer Camacho, HUD-certified housing counselor and loan specialist.
In July of 2021, NMHC was officially granted and recognized as an HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency. As described and embedded in its approved work plan, the NMHC Housing Counseling and Education Program shall be provided to those who are eligible and approved for housing assistance or any housing program that is provided and/or administered by NMHC; and are required per program rules to complete housing counseling and education.
Specifically, for the HOME and CDBG-DR housing programs, applicants approved for mortgage or loan assistance shall be required to complete housing counseling in one-on-one or group education sessions.
In each of these counseling and education sessions, borrowers learn about the mortgage process, homeownership/homebuyer pre-purchase standards, personal finance and budgeting, post-purchase standards and foreclosure prevention, to mention a few.
For inquires and more information on the housing counseling program, call NMHC at 234-6866. (PR)