Housing Action Illinois partners with Freddie Mac for uniform counseling data

Housing Action Illinois announced on Monday its collaboration with Freddie Mac on the creation of a uniform data standard for the housing counseling industry.

The new uniform data set will affect more than 1,600 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies and will help the industry better quantify and qualify its work, according to David Young, director of capacity building at Housing Action Illinois.

In 2019, the Chicago-based coalition partnered with Brick Bridge Consulting to analyze data relevant to housing counseling from the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization’s Logical Data Dictionary. It presented the findings to Freddie Mac in January 2020.

Now, with the data collected, the organizations plan to expand the data set to include relevant data points from across the housing counseling industry. Housing Action Illinois and Brick Bridge also created a gap analysis tool to help CMS developers determine the costs and time needed to make their systems compliant with the initial data set, the release said.

“This initiative will bring the housing counseling data reporting standards into the 21st century, with the ability to have housing counseling agencies communicate in the same digital language as Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, mortgage lenders, servicers, and the rest of the housing industry,” said Bruce Dorpalen, executive director of National Housing Resource Center.

“This is an important step forward in the housing counseling work to increase homeownership, to prevent unnecessary foreclosures, to find affordable rental opportunities for tenants and to educate housing consumers.”

After the 2008 financial crisis, Housing Action Illinois said the counseling industry recognized the need for a common data standard to measure impacts and outcomes as well as better acknowledge consumer needs. In response, the NHRC organized a coalition to better understand the issue with Housing Action Illinois acting as chair of the committee.

According to Housing Action Illinois, although HUD collects the same data from all housing counseling agencies, any additional information collected varies depending on the individual organization, housing counseling intermediary or CMS.

“We look forward to the launch of a new, more comprehensive data set that more accurately captures the work being done by housing counseling agencies across the country,” said Cindy Waldron, vice president of housing insights and solutions at Freddie Mac. “By taking on this ambitious project, Housing Action Illinois is helping us better understand what housing counseling agencies are accomplishing and what they need to accomplish.”

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