June is National Homeownership Month and whether you dream of one day being a homeowner or already are one, the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) has free programs and services that can help. Securing and maintaining safe, decent and affordable housing is one of the most significant financial decisions you make. As part of Mayor Bowser’s commitment to create pathways to the middle class, DISB has a variety of programs for dreamers and homeowners alike.

Our Financially Fit DC Program is designed to help residents understand and improve their financial health and well-being. The program offers online financial assessment and education tools to help connect you to resources that can be personalized to your financial situation. Consumers learn how to take control of everyday finances, identify short-term needs, set plans to reach long-term goals and ultimately achieve financial freedom. Topics include making a budget, building wealth through savings, understanding and managing your credit profile, preparing to buy a home, planning for retirement and helping the next generation plan for their financial future. Start by testing your financial wellness at: https://financiallyfitdc.com.

Insurance tips for homeowners and renters are provided through consumer guides and alerts produced and distributed by the Department. Homeowners insurance covers losses and damages to an individual’s home and personal property such as furniture, electronics, clothes and other valuables within the home, and provides liability coverage against accidents on your property. Similarly, renters insurance protects renters against damage or theft of their personal property, and liability coverage for accidents on the rented premises. It is important to note that damage to one’s home or belongings caused by flooding is not typically included in the homeowner’s policy. A homeowner can inquire about flood insurance through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Remember, before you sign an application for insurance, take a few minutes to contact DISB to confirm that the company is legitimate. You can reach us at 202-727-8000 or online where you can view our guides and alerts at disb.dc.gov.

A Reverse mortgage is a mortgage loan that enables the borrower to access built up equity in his or her home and defer payment of the loan until the borrower dies, sells or moves out of the home. Because there are no required mortgage payments, interest is added to the loan balance each month and borrowers are still responsible for property taxes and homeowners insurance. Reverse mortgages can help some seniors stay in their homes and receive additional retirement income. However, reverse mortgages are complicated and are not for everyone. Counseling is strongly recommended. DISB offers counseling referrals, printed information and community-based workshops to help consumers make the best possible decisions when considering reverse mortgages.

The Foreclosure Mitigation and Mediation Program provides access to several free resources to help District residents avoid foreclosure and navigate the foreclosure process including housing counseling referrals and legal aid referrals. Call the District’s Foreclosure Prevention Hotline at 202-265-CALL (2255) or 1-855-449-CALL (2255) or call DISB at 202-727-8000 for assistance in accessing these resources.

For more information on ways DISB can help you with homeownership, visit disb.dc.gov or follow us on Twitter @DCDISB and on Facebook.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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