News from Representative Al Green

   

October 22, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION                     Kwentoria A. Williams
October 22, 2019 Press Phone: 202-430-0125
      Email: algreenpress@mail.house.gov

Reps. Al Green (TX-09), Judy Chu (CA-27), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), and William Lacy Clay (MO-01) Introduce Limited English Proficiency Data Acquisition in Mortgage Lending Act of 2019

(Washington, D.C.) – On Tuesday, October 22, 2019, Congressman Al Green, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, and Congressman William Lacy Clay introduced H.R. 4783 and released the following statement:

Congressman Al Green said, “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). The language preference question – previously included on the Universal Residential Loan Application (URLA) form which is used for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – serves to help regulators gather pertinent information on borrowers’ language preferences so that we can decrease the likelihood of language barriers presenting a deterrent or challenge for prospective LEP homebuyers. In August 2019, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) removed this critical question, and their arbitrary decision perpetuates the risk of predatory lending practices that many LEP homebuyers fall prey to because of language barriers. The LEP Data Acquisition in Mortgage Lending Act of 2019, introduced by my colleagues Congresswoman Chu, Congresswoman Garcia, Congressman Clay, and I today, will require the language preference question to be reinstated on the URLA. We must continue collecting language preference information to ensure a fair and equitable approach to homebuying for all persons, regardless of their primary language.”

According to CAPAC Chair Congresswoman Judy Chu, “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. That’s why, as Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I’m proud to co-lead this important piece of legislation to ensure that a language preference question is included in the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA). Over one third of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are limited English proficient (LEP) and struggle with language barriers that make it difficult to navigate the complex financial process of buying a home. In fact, during the 2008 financial crisis, many LEP borrowers lost their homes due to language barriers that made it difficult to comprehend the terms of their loans. This is why Congressman Green and I urged FHFA Director Calabria to reverse his reckless decision to remove a preferred language question from the URLA when we met with him last month. But he said he would only do so if it was written in statute, so that’s exactly what this bill does. We must ensure that all Americans, regardless of their English proficiency, have the opportunity to access credit and purchase a home.”

“In removing the preferred language question from the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA), Director Calabria is making it harder for homebuyers with limited English proficiency to buy a home, particularly in immigrant communities and communities of color across the country,” added Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia. “This decision is reckless and unnecessary. It will only exacerbate barriers to homeownership for folks who speak another language other than English as their primary language. Homeownership is one of the primary ways families can accumulate wealth over time. Removing the preferred language question from the URLA will only hurt homebuyers with limited English proficiency. I urge Director Calabria to reverse his decision on this issue.”

“As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance, I have made inclusion and diversity a priority as we seek to make housing more affordable to all Americans,” said Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay.  “In order to help close the racial wealth gap it is critical that all Americans have a fair shot at homeownership.  I applaud my fellow committee members Ms. Garcia of the CHC and Congressman Al Green, as we work to help our great nation live up to it’s potential.”


H.R. 4783 or the LEP Data Acquisition in Mortgage Lending Act of 2019 has been endorsed by the following organizations: Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), AFR Language Access Task Force, California Reinvestment Coalition, Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Action, NAACP, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), National Fair Housing Alliance, National Housing Resource Center, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Woodstock Institute.

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