Urban League of Philadelphia gets $350,000 for housing program

PHILADELPHIA CREAM – Whether you are looking to buy a first home or facing eviction due to job loss due to the pandemic, the Philadelphia Urban League Housing Counseling Program can help.

The program, certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and recognized by the city and state, received a boost with a $350,000 federal grant announced last week by U.S. Representative Brendan F. Boyle.

The Urban League is a nonprofit group that provides education, training, entrepreneurship, housing, and wellness programs to underserved communities.

The grant comes from the Community Project Funding Program created by Congress this year that allows its members to apply for and support funds for nonprofit groups that are in their districts, Boyle said.

“Homeownership is one of the main ways we can move low-income people into the middle class,” Boyle said. “I think it also creates more stable neighborhoods. I’m glad I was able to get help from Washington, DC to provide these funds.

Andrea Custis, president and CEO of Urban League, said about 70 people attended one of their first home-buying sessions in North Philadelphia last week.

“More and more people are showing an interest in buying a home,” Custis said. “We should feel good about this because this is how members of black and brown communities can create intergenerational wealth. The more funding we receive, the more impact we can have. »

Urban League housing counselors offer intensive one-on-one sessions for first-time home buyers, she said.

“We know what banks are looking for and we know what loan officers are looking for,” Custis said. “By the time we finish with a person this checklist that the mortgage loan officer has, they reach these points. This is how our individuals can get mortgages.

Advisors typically also look for government programs, as well as financial institutions that offer first-time homebuyers settlement funds, sometimes up to $10,000. The federal grant money will also allow the Urban League to add its own money to the settlement pot for new owners, Custis said.

Urban League’s housing counseling program also helps existing landlords prevent evictions and foreclosures by teaching financial literacy.

During the COVID pandemic, more than 21,000 city residents, mostly in black and brown neighborhoods, have been able to avoid evictions thanks to a series of municipal, state and federal moratoriums, according to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

The last of these moratoriums expired in December

“We know a lot of people have lost their jobs during COVID and they need help,” Custis said. “A lot of people didn’t do anything wrong, but they lost their jobs and couldn’t pay their rent or their mortgage.”

Urban League housing counselors will guide them through the process if foreclosure or eviction is already a reality and even accompany them to court, if necessary.

“We will be here for you and help you through this process,” Custis said.

Other services offered by housing counselors include help with unpaid utility bills. It also provides assistance for people with tangled titles, where a person may live in the house and be entitled to it, but the deed is not in their name, or is in the name of a deceased relative, for example.

The Urban League has five initial housing sessions coming up on June 25, July 9, July 16, July 23, and July 30. For more information, please call 215-985-3220, ext. 235 or email: [email protected].

In 2018, Urban League assisted approximately 3,000 families and helped approximately 70 families become homeowners, with a total market value of $4 million. He has helped prevent more than 100 foreclosures, sparing neighborhoods from the blight and declining property values ​​that often accompany foreclosures.

Stephen Williams is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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