For years, AREAA has recognized expanded language access resources in the homebuying process as a critical need in closing the AAPI homeownership gap. So many clients represented by AREAA members come from families with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
AREAA and our friends in the House of Representatives worked diligently to bring the language preference question to the URLA form. We were disappointed to hear the question was removed earlier this year; it was a devastating blow to our community and our efforts to support the AAPI community. However, today we applaud our friends, Rep. Al Green and Rep. Judy Chu, for fighting on behalf of AREAA and the AAPI community. We are so grateful for their continued work and dedication, and look forward to their work through the Mortgage Lending Act.Tom Truong, 2019 AREAA President
On Tuesday, our friends in the House; Reps. Al Green (TX-09), Judy Chu (CA-27), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), and William Lacy Clay (MO-01), released in a press statement they would propose the Mortgage Lending Act of 2019 which requires the Universal Residential Loan Application (URLA) form include a language preference question for applicants to specify their language of choice.
Language Preference Question To Be Reinstated on URLA Form
This move comes in response to previous motions directed earlier this year by the new Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mark Calabria. The language preference question was removed under new leadership changes in FHFA earlier this year, stirring strong disagreement amongst many, including AREAA, in the housing and real estate communities.
The AAPI community is linguistically diverse and speaks nearly 30 languages. According to the American Community Survey, over 77% of AAPI families speak a language other than English at home. 12% of AAPI families claim to not speak English well, while 4% do not speak English at all.
Congressman Al Green commented in the press release, saying:
“Access to credit and homeownership is a common struggle for far too many new Americans and immigrant communities, in part because of strong language barriers. Offering information essential to the homebuying process in the preferred language of the borrower is critical to ensuring this access for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP).Congressman Al Green (TX-09)
The homebuying process is already a difficult, confusing process for many native speaking Americans. Ensuring that applicants understand the process thoroughly is vital to AREAA’s mission of closing the AAPI homeownership gap, but also ensures the overall growth and vitality of the real estate markets. Congresswoman Judy Chu, a longtime friend and ally of AREAA, also stated:
“Buying a home is already a difficult enough process without language barriers that leave non-English speaking homebuyers susceptible to abuse. When homebuyers are unable to understand their loans it isn’t just unjust to them, it’s harmful to our economy.”Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27)
AREAA Continues To Advocate For Language Access
This news comes as a major victory for AREAA and for other groups seeking to improve the homebuying process for minority-Americans across the country. AREAA will continue to advocate for greater language access resources to eliminate further barriers to homeownership. Once again, AREAA will return to Capitol Hill in May later this year to meet with our nation’s leaders and legislators to continue to share the struggles AAPI families face in the homebuying process and solutions to overcome those obstacles.
To read more about AREAA’s work advocating for Language Access, please read our annual Three Point Plan by clicking below: