Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Housing Counseling released a new website intended to help counselors to prepare for HUD's upcoming Counselor Certification Exam. Counseling agencies are encouraged to review the new website here: http://www.hudhousingcounselors.com/
HUD estimates that it will release the Final Rule governing the Counselor Certification Program in October 2015. At that time, HUD will also release an "effective date" at which point the Counselor Certification Exam and Practice Exam will go live on the website. HUD does not currently have an estimate of how long after the Rule is announced that the effective date will be.
The new website contains 6 free training modules in areas required by the Dodd Frank Act: financial management, property maintenance, responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy, fair housing laws and requirements, housing affordability, and avoidance of and responses to rental and mortgage delinquency and avoidance of eviction and default.
HUD estimates that it will take new counselors 10 to 12 hours to complete these optional, self-guided training modules. Please note that because the site does not require user registration, there is no method for the site to track individual progress, so counselors are encouraged to take note of which sections they have completed.
HUD does not intend this training program or the eventual counselor certification requirement to replace existing training and certification programs that individual Intermediaries may have in place. However, once the Final Rule is effective, all HUD-Certified counseling agencies will have to have all housing counselors certified under HUD's program within a certain timeframe.
As a reminder, HUD released a Proposed Rule on Counselor Certification on September 13, 2013. The Proposed rule is available here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-13/pdf/2013-22229.pdf