HUD is an acronym standing for Housing and Urban Development, a cabinet of the United States. It has existed since 1965 and is charged with ensuring smooth policy for housing and city development. Since the mid-1970s, its focus has shifted primarily to housing, leaving urban planning more in the hands of individual cities.
One of the main functions of HUD, and certainly that with which most people interact, is its role as a lending facilitator. HUD helps people of low- and mid-level incomes acquire loans to purchase housing. HUD itself is not a lending institution, but it approves lenders and supports them materially.
HUD also offers extensive counseling services for potential homeowners. A network exists through HUD of organizations which address a wide range of key educational issues relating to home ownership. HUD funds many special programs through individual grants, all with the aim of assisting Americans who wish to buy a house. In addition to counsel relating to first-time purchases, HUD also supports organizations which offer advice on foreclosure, defaults, renting and many credit issues.
Virtually all real estate agents in the United States participate in HUD programs and are able to give advice to clients wishing to receive HUD assistance. All bids which receive HUD assistance must come through a participating real-estate agent and cannot be handled directly by the buyer.
HUD's areas of assistance are not confined to those listed above; virtually anything relating to home-ownership or rental falls within the jurisdiction of HUD. This includes safety issues, housing discrimination, senior housing, home repair and homeowner's insurance. HUD also handles a number of initiatives designed as incentive programs for other sectors of society, not just low-income families. The Officer Next Door program, for example, offers HUD-owned homes to police officers at 50% of their market value.
HUD is also loosely connected to the the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), both of which deal with mortgages in the United States. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) falls more closely under HUD, helping to guarantee mortgages to low-income homeowners.