WASHINGTON (3/31/08)–The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last week approved the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) as a federal housing counseling intermediary. The new HUD certification authorizes the Federation to take on a role that has been filled by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) since 2003. Credit unions seeking federal grants to provide housing counseling now will apply through the Federation. The request to HUD to certify the Federation came from the NCUF. NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin explained the reason for this transition: "Over the past five years, community development credit unions demonstrated the most success meeting HUD's criteria. So last year we included the Federation in our final HUD grant." Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal said, “We’re grateful to the Foundation for introducing HUD to credit unions and to the Federation. Housing counseling is a crucial service to help consumers avoid the current mortgage crisis and potential foreclosures, and credit unions have an incredible opportunity to aid millions of Americans facing these problems.” He added that the Federation has both expertise and capacity to help credit unions become “even more effective as housing counseling agents.” The Federation’s “CU Breakthrough” consulting team will continue working with NCUF to provide technical assistance and training to HUD-certified credit unions during the last six months of HUD’s 2007 grant cycle, which extends through Sept. 30, 2008. Twenty-two credit unions are using this final HUD grant from NCUF to provide housing counseling for potential first-time homebuyers. Federation Senior Consultant Terry Ratigan is currently coordinating the 2008 HUD Housing Counseling grant application. Credit union applications are due on April 13 for a new grant cycle that begins on Oct. 1. For information on the new HUD grant application, credit unions can contact Ratigan at email@example.com.