For us, Homeownership Month isn’t just about celebrating how the Fahe Network provides new homeownership opportunities to underserved communities, but also about how we serve existing homeowners. Right now amidst COVID-19, making sure we can reach and support households negatively impacted by the pandemic in Appalachia is crucial to ensure our communities can stay healthy and financially stable. An example of this is how Fahe Member Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP) is ensuring people in their communities have access to information and support by providing telephone and online counseling services.
SERCAP’s Housing Counseling Program has focused on providing its housing and financial counseling services via telephone and online to individuals on unpaid leave during the COVID-19 public health crisis. SERCAP is an approved HUD Local Housing Counseling Agency (LHCA), which has served hundreds of clients since 2012, through a variety of Housing Counseling and Financial Literacy services. In recent months, SERCAP has worked to promote its telephone counseling services in order to help individuals across the Commonwealth of Virginia to mitigate the challenges of losing income by being placed on unpaid leave. SERCAP’s Certified Housing Counselors have provided, and are continuing to provide, guidance on speaking to creditors and bill collectors about: waiving late fees during the COVID-19 crisis, temporarily pausing minimum payments due and/or offering flexible payment schedules, and requesting that late payments not be reported to the credit bureaus during pandemic.
SERCAP’s Housing Counseling Program has also continued to provide its regular slate of rental, pre-purchase, and post-purchase housing counseling services to potential homebuyers, during the crisis. SERCAP intends to continue providing remote services via telephone and online, through the phased re-opening, and even into the future.
Without SERCAP’s Housing Counseling Program, and other similar services, many low-income individuals and communities would be forced to go without access to Financial Literacy Education, and such necessities as safe and affordable housing, indoor plumbing, reliable access to clean drinking water, water/wastewater infrastructure solutions, and other community development and infrastructure needs. It is important to remember that even in the US in the 21st Century; there are those who do not have reliable access to clean, safe drinking water, environmentally sound septic facilities, and affordable housing.
For people inside SERCAP’s service region interested in homeownership, they can reach out to SERCAP’s Housing Counseling Program by calling 540-345-1184, or emailing SERCAP’s Housing Counseling Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those interested in helping SERCAP directly as they continue to provide assistance to both the individuals and communities in need, you can learn more about donating to their Water is Life! Fund.
Fahe Members are important first responders in their communities during this crisis. To ensure our Member organizations can continue to provide necessary services during the pandemic and lead the economic rebuilding later, we support them in a variety of ways, including by developing an emergency loan fund at zero percent interest, which is available to Members who need it.
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*Funding for SERCAP’s Housing Counseling Program is made possible by two grants from the Virginia Housing: the HUD Housing Counseling Grant and the Housing Counseling & Education (HCE) Grant, as well as support from BB&T (now Truist) and Wells Fargo. The program is additionally leveraged by a Budget Appropriation, through the Virginia General Assembly, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD).