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Letter to Regulator: AFR, 86 organizations call for FHFA to make mortgages more accessible to people with limited English proficiency

Submitted by on August 1, 2017 – 4:01 pm
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Re:      Improving Language Access in Mortgage Lending and Servicing

Dear Director Watt and FHFA staff:

The undersigned organizations welcome the opportunity to submit this comment in response to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)’s Request for Input (RFI) on Improving Language Access in Mortgage Lending and Servicing issued May 25, 2017.

Language is a significant barrier to seeking homeownership in many communities. In 2014, approximately 25.3 million individuals, roughly 9 percent of the U.S. population, were considered limited English proficient (LEP). Despite this sizable need and opportunity, the language needs of many current and potential homeowners are left unmet in the mortgage marketplace.

As dominant actors in the mortgage industry with a statutory duty to facilitate underserved communities’ access to homeownership, we welcome the FHFA, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae’s consideration of steps to expand access to the mortgage market. We believe the FHFA and the Enterprises should improve language access in the mortgage market by taking steps to ensure that:

  • language preference is collected, tracked, and transferred throughout the life of the loan;
  • borrowers are provided translated disclosures and access to staff or oral interpreters who speak their preferred language;
  • non-English or translated documents are accepted from borrowers;
  • in-language resources are developed and distributed; and
  • further policies and practices are developed in consultation with other stakeholders.

We greatly appreciate the FHFA’s attention to this critical issue and look forward to its continued engagement to expand access to homeownership.

Sincerely,

Americans for Financial Reform

Arizona Housing Coalition

Asian Services In Action, Inc

Asian-American Homeownership Counseling, Inc.

Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc.

California Reinvestment Coalition

California Resources and Training

CCCS of Northeastern Iowa

Center for NYC Neighborhoods

Central Ohio Fair Housing Association

Centro De Apoyo Familiar (CAF)

Chinese American Service League

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (on behalf of its low-income clients)

Connecticut Fair Housing Center

Consumer Action

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc.

Cornerstones

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation

East LA Community Corporation

Empire Justice Center

Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People

Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California

Fair Housing Center

Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana

Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama

Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan

Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan

Fair Housing Council of Northern NJ

Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Family Housing Resources, Inc.

Good Neighbor Foundation

Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center

Haven Neighborhood Services

Hispanic League

HOND, INC

HOPE Fair Housing Center

Housing America Corporation

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)

Housing Equality Law Project (HELP)

Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Greater Cincinnati

Housing Opportunities of Northern Delaware, Inc.

Human Development Services of Westchester

Impacct Brooklyn

Integra Home Counseling, Inc.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Legal Services NYC

Long Island Housing Services, Inc

LUCHA (Latin United Community Housing Association)

Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance

Massachusetts Fair Housing Center

Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council

Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Inc.

Mobilization for Justice, Inc.

National Association of Consumer Advocates

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD)

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)

National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Housing Resource Center

Nazareth Housing Services

NCCED (National Congress for Community Economic Development)

Neighborhood Housing Services of Staten Island

New Economics for Women

North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence

North Carolina Justice Center

Northwest Side Housing Center

PathStone Corporation

Project Sentinel

Prosperity Now (formerly CFED)

Public Justice Center

PUENTES NEW ORLEANS

Reinvestment Partners

Rensselaer County Housing Resources, Inc.

Residential Resources, Inc.

Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation

Rural Community Assistance Corporation

Southwest Fair Housing Council

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center

Sustainable Together (New Jersey)

The Housing Council at PathStone

The Housing Partnership, Inc.

The Public Interest Law Center

U.S. PIRG

UnidosUS (formerly NCLR)

UNITE HERE

Woodstock Institute

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