$900K awarded to housing counseling services in Minnesota

Representatives hold up checks at the Minnesota Homeownership Center
Representatives from four organizations that received grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the Minnesota Homeownership Center on Oct. 17, 2018.
Gabriel Kwan | MPR News

Organizations helping with home ownership in Minnesota will receive almost $900,000 in grant money to maintain and expand their services.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Midwest regional administrator Joseph Galvan announced the grants and their recipients Wednesday at the Minnesota Homeownership Center in St. Paul.

"This endeavor will help increase the Minnesota homeownership rate, which is higher than the national average," Galvan said.

Even though most white Minnesotans own homes, Minnesotans of color have among the lowest rates of homeownership in the country.

Galvan said the counseling organizations fill a critical role for young people as they navigate the process for the first time.

"This is the biggest purchase that they'll probably ever make in their life. So this allows them to meet with individuals who can coach them, and tell them what to expect," Galvan said.

The Minnesota Homeownership Center received the largest share. The Center's director, Julie Gugin, said they will distribute the money among their partner organizations, encompassing a wide range of services.

"That means everything from financial coaching ... all the way up through foreclosure counseling," she said.

"We know that people who are homeowners tend to be more stable in their employment," she said. "Homeownership helps stabilize education, employment, health and overall communities."

Steven Pareja, executive director of Catholic Charities, also received a grant. He said housing counseling helps vulnerable populations get back on their feet.

"We know that no one is immune to financial hardships, and these issues can arise very quickly," Pareja said. "So it's important for us to be able to be there in that time of need to help them and provide them the education, the training and the counseling they need to keep moving forward."

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