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FHFA Addresses the Language Barrier

The FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, recently announced new resources for Americans who need assistance with mortgage loans but who possess limited English-language proficiency. That could be causing homeowners extra hardships during an already trying time, the FHFA recognized.

"Over the past decade in the United States, the percentage of Hispanic/Latino and Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations has increased to 18.5 and 6%, respectively," wrote Sika Pryor, Senior Policy Analyst for the Office of Housing and Regulatory Policy. "Hispanic/Latino and AAPI communities make up a majority of the estimated 26 million people in the country considered to be limited English proficient (LEP), according to Census data. LEP can make it difficult to navigate the mortgage process, which today is further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when borrowers have trouble making their mortgage payments due to financial hardships."

With an understanding of the complex and time-sensitive nature of loss mitigation for borrowers facing economic difficulties, the FHFA along with Fannie and Freddie are working to give said borrowers access to the industry resources highlighted on the agency's Mortgage Translations Clearinghouse website.

Our goal, wrote Pryor, "is to help LEP borrowers better understand the mortgage process and determine the best path forward with more robust, on-demand language support services."

The aforementioned Mortgage Translations clearinghouse offers scripts in Spanish and four Asian languages that servicers can use with clients requesting forbearance as provided by the CARES Act.

That includes translations into the first- and second-most spoken foreign languages in the U.S.—Spanish and traditional Chinese—as well as Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog.

According to Pryor, "This online resource includes industry-standard glossaries of mortgage-related terms, more than 500 mortgage and homebuyer education documents, and information about live, on-demand telephonic translation services. It has downloadable versions of the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA), a step-by-step guide to walk LEP borrowers through applying for or refinancing a mortgage, and the revised Mortgage Assistance Application (MAAp), in Spanish, traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog."

These translated resources can be found in full at fhfa.gov/mortgagetranslations.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others.
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