In August 2017, the HUD Housing Counseling Exam became the new standard of certifying HUD housing counselors. Regardless of one's years of experience in the housing field, the exam has gained a formidable reputation. Across the nation, only 26% of counselors have passed the exam and a passing grade is needed to continue representing clients with housing counseling dollars from HUD. All counselors need to be certified by August 1, 2020.
Our staff attended national trainings to prepare for the exam. Preparation for the exam also required hours of studying including knowledge assessments, practice HUD exams, and reading the six core module manual. Legal Aid Housing Unit staff were tested on all six core competency areas: Financial Management; Property Maintenance; Homeownership (delinquency and foreclosure); Tenancy (delinquency and eviction); Fair Housing; and Civil Rights despite the fact that our team does not represent clients in all six areas. Exam takers are not allowed to have paper, pencil or a calculator to work through the math or post the formulas. The difficulty of this exam cannot be overstated.
One Legal Aid of the Bluegrass housing attorney and a housing counselor passed the exam in December, 2019 with additional staff preparing for the next exam date. Our certification success isn’t just important to our organization, it is important to the field. It sets a standard of service for housing counseling and equips counselors with a broader understanding of options available to help families.
Housing Counselor, Patty Pickett, said of her success “I now find myself taking a few extra steps and using techniques found in the HUD manual. I am able to better identify issues outside the help LABG offers and readily refer clients to agencies that can meet their needs. Now that the dust has settled, I am able to see the true value of the certification process.”
Legal Aid of the Bluegrass advocates make people feel safe and valued when discussing their housing needs and help them obtain the goals they have set for themselves and their families. We compassionately work to resolve barriers to housing instability and have highly skilled certified counselors ready to help keep people in their homes.