Accountability and Compliance for Housing Counseling Agencies

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1 Accountability and Compliance for Housing Counseling Agencies April 2012 Why is Accountability and Compliance Important? To ensure that agencies are complying with HUD regulations and program To evaluate the managerial and financial capacity of agencies to implement approved housing counseling program. To determine compliance with the agency s Work Plan To reduce risk to the Department from fraud or ineffective housing counseling programs. To assure quality services to clients Bases of Compliance Requirements Section 106 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 authorizes HUD s Housing Counseling Program Regulations in 24 CFR 214 prescribe the procedures and of the Program HUD Handbook , mortgagee letters and grant agreements provide details on the Program. Fair Credit Reporting Act Fair Housing and Civil Rights Laws Other federal regulations may have additional. State and local laws and regulations may apply

2 Who is responsible for Agency Compliance? The Agency Leadership The Management staff The Financial office The Housing Counseling Department Manager Housing Counselors Performance Review Used to determine compliance and accountability Elements of a Performance Review HUD may conduct periodic on site or remote performance review of all approved agencies Performance review looks at: Compliance with basic program Compliance with applicable civil rights Skill and experience of staff Financial and administrative capacity of the agency Program practices and delivery of services Compliance with conflict of interest Compliance with facility and accessibility Grant Performance

3 Client Files and Agency Information The agency must allow HUD staff access to client files and provide other information as requested. The agency must provide a list of clients when requested to do so. Files may be paper, electronic or a combination. HUD staff will review client files to: Determine compliance with recordkeeping and program Evaluate quality of services provided HUD staff will protect the confidentiality of the client files. Consequences of a Performance Review Unconditional re approval Agency is fully compliant with program Up to 3 years Conditional re approval Compliance failures do not seriously impair the agency s ability to provide services Agency has 120 days to correct deficiencies Inactive Because of temporary circumstances Up to 6 months Termination Deficiencies that seriously impair agency s ability to provide services Fails to correct deficiencies. Form 9910 (Performance Review) Used by HUD staff to evaluate an agency s compliance with programmatic Posted on HUD website at Completed through staff interviews, inspection of office, file reviews and review of other materials.

4 What the Form Looks At Maintenance of Approval Criteria Facilities, including accessibility Delivery of Housing Counseling Services Reverse Mortgage Counseling (if applicable) Agency Record Keeping Client & Group Files Reporting to HUD Financial Audit and Capacity Performance Criteria Conflict of Interest Grants Management (if applicable) Lender funded Counseling Services Fees for services Critical Issues/Significant Findings The Performance Review may identify critical issues or significant findings The agency is not complying with regulations and Handbook These Findings may impact the status of the agency Some could result in immediate termination Usually an agency will be given time to correct the findings The Performance Review may also make recommendations to improve compliance. What Are Some Significant Findings? Loss of IRS 501 (c)(3) status No space for one on one counseling Non compliance with fair housing and civil rights An inadequate recording keeping system Not having or using an acceptable CMS Not maintaining the confidentiality of client files Client files don t have the required elements The 9902 was incorrect and/or not submitted on time Changes to staff, agency purpose and functions not reported to HUD within 15 days

5 Appropriate audit was not performed Lack of sufficient funds to carry out Housing Counseling Plan The housing counseling plan and revisions was not submitted to HUD for approval The housing counseling plan does not reflect the services provided The housing counseling staff does not have the required experience or training The agency Client Disclosure form does not meet HUD The HUD grant was not managed correctly Lender funded counseling services did not meet HUD Fees, if charged, did not meet HUD Housing Counseling Plan The basis for Agency s Housing Counseling activities. The Plan outlines the community needs and the services that the Agency will provide to meet those needs The Plan is a living document and should be reviewed and updated regularly Changes must be submitted to HUD prior to implementation The Plan should discuss any alternative settings or formats that will be used to provide services Details are in

6 Components of the Plan Descriptions of: The service area, including demographics and housing needs. The housing counseling services that will be provided, both individual counseling and group education Alternative settings and formats The plan for client follow up The fee structure Services for non English speaking clients Counseling Services A client must receive all the basic counseling services A housing counselor must perform and document the activities. Housing Counseling to enable client to make informed decisions on housing goal Approved topics: Pre purchase, Mortgage Delinquency, Post Purchase, Rental, Reverse Mortgage, Homeless Assistance Discussion of Alternatives and Options Action Plan what the agency and the client are going to do to meet the client s goals Financial Analysis spending plan Referrals to other agencies to meet a client need Follow up to determine if goals are met or need revision Client file Termination of counseling must be documented in file

7 19 Record Keeping and Reporting Good and accurate record keeping is vital to successful housing counseling. Record Keeping is a major part of a Performance Review 20 Record Keeping System Any system can be used, but it must contain all information required by HUD Handbook and lend itself to easy monitoring by HUD. Agencies must have and use a Client Management System (CMS) that interfaces with HUD s Housing Counseling System (HCS) 21 Individual Client File Client file number Client s name, address and telephone number. Include if available Demographic and income data Housing counselor s name Interview date Information & documents obtained during the screening and subsequent interviews or counseling sessions Disclosures and authorizations

8 22 Client File (Cont.) Financial analysis Activity log Purpose and results of each visit Time spent Client s Housing Counseling Action Plan Documentation of any follow up with client, including participation in group sessions Documentation of termination of counseling and the results 23 Group Session File Separate File for each Course / Workshop Participation must also be recorded in each individual client file, if a separate client file is already set up for one on one counseling. Do not make a new file for each person attending a group session. 24 Group Session File (con t) File number Participating clients names, addresses and phone numbers Demographic data Signature of each client for each session attended Session subject Name of each housing counselor participating in session Date, place and duration of session Disclosures

9 25 Confidentiality of Records and Credit Reports Agency must keep all client information, including credit reports, confidential Agency may be subject to the penalties provided in the Fair Credit Reporting Act for failure to maintain confidentiality of or misuse of credit reports 26 File Retention Requirements Case files shall be retained for a period of (3) years from the date: the case file was terminated for housing counseling or the final invoice was paid by HUD depending on the grant year (for grantees)

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