When a family is looking to purchase their first home, or a homeowner is faced with foreclosure, they often turn to a HUD-approved housing counselor for help. Housing counselors are on the front lines of helping people find and keep what is for many their greatest financial investment – their home. Lauren McLaughlin is one of those heroes.
Lauren works for Hudson River Housing Inc., a non-profit housing counseling center in Poughkeepsie, NY, that helps families find affordable rental housing or buy their first home. Lauren and her colleagues promote homeownership by creating educated and confident homebuyers and then helping them preserve their investment. In 2011, she became a housing counselor with a focus on foreclosure prevention. Within two years, she was overseeing all of the center’s programs.
“Anyone who wants to be a homeowner can be a homeowner one day,” McLaughlin said. “It starts with the kind of education you don’t get in school.”
As a housing counselor, Lauren walks potential homebuyers through a basic financial assessment and identifies what obstacles may prevent families from securing a sustainable mortgage and, more importantly, how to overcome them. It’s not uncommon for folks to tell her, “I wish I knew you earlier!”
One of Lauren’s fondest memories is of a retired couple in their late sixties who were missionary workers that helped countless communities and villages all across the world. They had been renters their entire lives and all they wanted was to be homeowners. Lauren and the couple came up with a plan. For months, they saved and paid down debts and eventually bought the home of their dreams.
“They were so appreciative and thankful for our services and all that we offer,” McLaughlin said. “The day before closing, the couple was sitting in my office crying and saying, ‘We never thought this day would come.’ I was so grateful to help them fulfill their dreams, a couple that has helped so many other people. It really made me feel like I was part of something bigger, a worldwide community.”
This is just one of many examples of how Lauren and housing counselors like her are working as everyday heroes. To date, Lauren and Hudson River Housing has helped more than 30,000 homebuyers find and keep their homes. In honor of “American Heroes Week,” HUD recognizes Lauren and all housing counselors for helping more Americans achieve the dream of homeownership.