Graphic - 3 Signs It’s Time to Connect with a Housing Counselor

With rent and home prices hitting record highs, many households face challenges when it comes to affordable housing. Rising prices on essentials like groceries, gas and healthcare also put pressure on household budgets.

Our HUD-certified counselors can begin a conversation about where you are today. Take the first step and call.

According to Pew Research, a growing number of Americans say that finding affordable housing is a major problem in their local community. About half of those surveyed said affordability was a major problem where they live, up 10 percentage points from early 2018. In the same survey, 70% of Americans said young adults today have a harder time buying a home than their parents’ generation did.

Renters are also feeling the pinch. The same study shows that average rent in US has risen 18% over past 5 years, and nearly half of renters spend 30% or more of their income on housing.

This meets the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of being “cost burdened.”

The bottom line is that household budgets are feeling pressures that can be stressful.

To manage the worry and uncertainty, contacting a trusted nonprofit resource like 995Hope can make a huge difference.

Noted below are 3 indicators that it might be time to reach out to our trusted HUD-certified counselors.

1 - You feel like you are out of options.

When it’s tough to keep up with monthly housing payments, it may feel like there are few options to get on solid ground. Our homes are central to our well-being and safety so understanding the options to stay in our homes is critical. 995Hope counselors are people from communities like yours, who understand your worry and are committed to helping you ease housing stress and uncertainty through access to clear information.

As an example, a recent phone counseling session illustrates the importance of setting people up to understand their options and make informed decisions.

A 995Hope caller contacted a trusted counselor for guidance about her delinquent mortgage. It was a scary time for her. She has a medical disability along with unexpected financial challenges and she was so nervous she was going to lose her home. She was especially nervous about all the new terms she had to sort through – like figuring out what a loan servicer is or understanding terms like “loan modification,” “retention options” and other financial concepts.

The counselor was glad to take the time to understand her full financial picture, walk her through the process, and eventually get on a call with her to speak with her loan servicer to understand next steps to keep her in her home while building a play for payment.

Our HUD-certified counselors can begin a conversation about where you are today. Take the first step and call.

2 - Your budget needs tweaking.

“One week’s pay” is an adage many of us heard from our grandparents as guidance for how much we should budget for rent but finding housing that is equal to 25% of your net income is becoming harder and harder.

A common concern among callers is the rising costs of everyday essentials, everything from groceries to gas. Even those with comfortable monthly household income are feeling the squeeze on their budgets. In addition to housing costs, you should still be able to manage other expenses like transportation and medical costs. So assessing the housing budget, your monthly income against current expenses is really important.

Across income levels, 995Hope counselors have seen a need for budgeting and supportive services. The fundamentals like keeping track of spending with a basic spending plan will help any household take control of expense management.

3 - It's tough to keep current with debt.

Many people find it hard to balance housing costs when struggling with high interest credit card debt or other debt. The longer you carry a high interest credit card balance, the more it takes a bite out of your available monthly income. Depending on your situation, it might make sense to pay as much extra as they can on highest-interest debt first, and then once that’s paid off, move on to the second-highest interest debt, and so on.

Consider debt management plans or work with a trusted financial counselor from 995Hope to help reduce monthly payments and the overall cost of debt. In addition to reduced discretionary spending, we ask clients if they can postpone major purchases like a new car.  If a major ticket item must be replaced soon, start early to set cash aside.

What’s a good next step?

For those who feel anxious about their housing budget and overwhelmed with debt, reaching out to the caring, HUD-certified counselors at the 995Hope hotline is a good option.

A financial counseling session with certified counselors can provide an emphatic ear, look at your entire financial picture and help make a plan tailored for your situation.