Founded with the original name of Housing Opportunities Collaborative (HOC) in 2005, we started like many collaborative endeavors; an effort to bring various parties together around a shared interest in serving the public’s interests in affordable homeownership. In fact, efforts had been afoot for over a decade, mostly led by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to bring organizations together around a more coordinated and holistic approach to community development and housing.
By 2006, those efforts became more formal, as a board of directors was formed, with representatives from government, non-profit, and the private sector, coming together around affordable homeownership solutions and to promote partnerships that deliver them. That body saw the need to form a separate and free-standing entity that could support the collaborative efforts of the various constituents, including forming a 501(c)(3) with a purpose of advancing service to mission-populations by bringing a variety of service and resource partners together around fair, decent, and affordable housing, homeownership, and consumer financial literacy.
Starting from small group of volunteer member organizations that donated office space including being a fiscal agent, the HOC grew to have over 80 collaborating organizations in Southern California as members, holding public events called HOME Clinics that brought member organizations and interested parties together with Realtors and other industry players, and later morphed into a foreclosure outreach event model that served over tens of thousands of people struggling to afford their home and seeking assistance. Along the way the HOC became a HUD Approved Housing Counseling organization, and later the first collaborative to become a HUD Approved National Housing Counseling Intermediary, with a footprint that covered most of Southern California and two branches in Orange County and the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties – an area with a total population equal to roughly 8% of the nation.
In 2013, under the leadership of Vino Pajanor, the HOC launched a game-changing new technology in the industry; the Virtual Counselor Network (VCN), a new way for counselors and coaches to meet with clients on demand and using a virtual connection. For the public, this means a new, more useful, and often just-in-time service connection to trusted non-profit providers for housing, consumer finances, small business, employment and more. For providers this brings both efficiency in service while also broadening their reach and capacity to deliver their mission. The VCN grows to take on new shapes in new areas as time goes on, as partners utilize its technology suite to enhance their online presence, connect to client management systems, and convert online interactions into direct services. While HOC continues to work with the HUD industry, the board decided not to pursue the continued status of being a HUD Intermediary, instead deciding to work with other more scaled intermediaries and their affiliate networks to further the homeownership mission.
In late 2018, with the end of local service contracts in San Diego and the last active VCN consumer-direct triage services, and facing growing national demand for technical assistance in building lending and homeownership collaboratives, hub & spoke partnerships, and affordable loan product delivery systems, the Board decided that the future direction of HOC would be to fill the void in the landscape of “Housing” organizations and national efforts, and provide a shared voice, collaborating nonprofit, facilitator, and technical assistance & training provider to the field nationally. With the new direction, we return to our roots in many ways, acting as a convener, advocate, and partnership builder; all in service to our now-sole-focus on homeownership. With this focus and new direction, we have changed the name of the organization to better match our focused mission as the Homeownership Council of America. Working with the industry to develop sustainable mission-business models that reach underserved communities while providing for a growth path for CDFIs and HUD approved organizations to proliferate the Hubs & Spokes model, help existing lending and homeownership organizations and collaboratives grow by enhancing their delivery, product offerings, and capital markets outlets. Our partner organizations are providing education, counseling, and ultimately a deeply needed connection to affordable home financing, including first mortgage lending, brokerage, and down payment & closing cost assistance programs. We work with nonprofits, banks, credit unions, investors, and leading industry providers to create regional and national mortgage delivery systems for LMI and other underserved communities. Together, we are working to stem the wealth gap for the 40+ Million households in America that qualify for sustainable homeownership but haven’t accessed the greatest wealth building opportunity due to a variety of barriers, including access to credit.
HCA will move forward as the only national nonprofit focused solely on homeownership; providing a shared voice as an advocate for the least served communities, and building delivery systems that provide access to the greatest wealth-building opportunity for most Americans; homeownership.