Complete Description:Homeownership counseling can help consumers learn about buying a home and give them tools to deal with setbacks that could keep them from making timely mortgage payments. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approves and provides grants to housing counseling agencies and has also implemented a requirement that borrowers seeking federally insured reverse mortgages through the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program receive counseling before taking out a HECM. The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) has also implemented a counseling requirement as part of its mortgage modification efforts under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). This statement discusses (1) what research suggests about the effectiveness of homeownership counseling and the challenges of conducting such research, (2) shortcomings that prior GAO work found in federal agencies' implementation of homeownership counseling requirements, and (3) the status of efforts to establish an Office of Housing Counseling within HUD. In preparing this statement, GAO relied on its past work on homeownership counseling, including a review of research and interviews with federal agency staff on implementing and evaluating counseling programs. GAO found that the body of literature on homeownership counseling does not provide conclusive findings on the impact of all types of counseling.