David J. Reiss | Armed, Unarmed or Harmed by Knowledge? A Comment on the FHA's Housing Counseling Pilot Program

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David J. Reiss | Armed, Unarmed or Harmed by Knowledge? A Comment on the FHA’s Housing Counseling Pilot Program

David J. Reiss | Armed, Unarmed or Harmed by Knowledge? A Comment on the FHA’s Housing Counseling Pilot Program

Armed, Unarmed or Harmed by Knowledge? A Comment on the FHA’s Housing Counseling Pilot Program

David J. Reiss, Brooklyn Law School

Abstract

The FHA has requested input on its Homeowners Armed with Knowledge (HAWK) for New Homebuyers pilot program. This comment letter argues that housing counseling is not a proven solution to the problem it is meant to solve, excessive defaults by FHA borrowers. HAWK is a traditional housing counseling program but the scholarly literature casts into doubt the efficacy of such programs. It would be better to take time to research which counseling strategies, if any, are proven to be effective. This is true for the FHA but also for other government agencies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that have devoted significant resources to unproven financial counseling programs.

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