NCUF Innovation Grant Will Build Latino Real Estate Coalition

A $24,050 Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) will build a Latino Real Estate Coalition that will refer Spanish-speaking homebuyers to affordable credit union mortgages.
Village Credit Union logo
“The Latino Real Estate Coalition will address the need for ethical practices among minorities and serve as an informal policing of best practices,” envisions Debbie Whittie, CEO of Village Credit Union, which will pilot the project in Iowa.
“It will provide education within the Hispanic community and eventually other minority communities, invoke better communications between real estate professionals and their clients, and call for stronger partnerships between mortgage industry professionals seeking to break down home-buying barriers for Hispanics.”

Specifically, the NCUF Innovation Grant will enable Village Credit Union to:
  • Educate Latinos about the importance of credit scores in the U.S.;
  • Give Latinos opportunities to build credit affordably and safely;
  • Build a coalition of professionals who play key roles in helping Latinos buy homes – including Realtors, builders, appraisers, and lenders;
  • Create a best practices report that documents all the steps taken and lessons learned.

Best Practices Will Be Shared Nationwide

While the initial focus will be on Latinos in Iowa's state capital area, Village Credit Union’s report will enable other credit unions to develop innovations serving Latinos in other cities and states.
Village Credit Union has hired Coopera Consulting, a subsidiary of the Iowa Credit Union League that partners with credit unions seeking to grow membership in emerging markets around the country.
“Our hope,” Whittie related, “is that the concept of building a Latino Real Estate Coalition will be recorded in credit union history as a challenge transformed into community development and innovative business savvy.”

“Credit unions are often left out when real estate agents partner with mortgage brokers,” observed NCUF Deputy Director Steve Bosack, staff liaison to the NCUF Grants Committee. “And much too often, minority homebuyers are steered toward sub-prime mortgages. Being on the ground floor of a Latino Real Estate Coalition would give credit unions a strong foothold to provide sustainable low-cost homeownership opportunities for Latinos. This coalition could serve as an innovative model for credit unions serving Latino communities across America.”

Affordable Home Loan Options

Affordable home loans through the coalition will include traditional mortgages as well as mortgages for homebuyers who qualify with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

“Our board and management team was informed that our loan procedures would need to be changed because of most Latinos’ lack of documentation and credit history,” Whittie explained. “Our policies required a Social Security Number to even be considered for a loan. This is a major roadblock for the majority of Latinos who are in the U.S. with a Matricula Card or simply have an ITIN. ITIN-only mortgages are a revolutionary new product that can unlock the door to homeownership for undocumented minorities.”
Click for REAL Solutions!Best practices from the coalition may also be incorporated into NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions.

The homeownership component of REAL Solutions currently offers several low-cost homeownership options, including Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) mortgages advocated by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). HLPR mortgages are priced as low as 1% below the nationwide average.

Fifth of 14 NCUF Innovation Grants

This is the fifth of 14 Innovation Grants to be approved by NCUF in 2008. Innovation Grants are made possible by investments in the Community Investment Fund (CIF).
Click to see how to invest in CIF!During the 2008 Innovation Grants application cycle, NCUF received 41 applications requesting over $2.2 million in funding. This was nearly four times the $600,000 budgeted for Innovation Grants through the CIF.

“Grant requests were much higher this year because the needs are much greater,” relates NCUF Deputy Director Steve Bosack, the Foundation’s staff liaison to the NCUF Grants Committee. “More credit unions are seeking innovative ways to serve people with low wealth and modest means.”

“More credit unions than ever are investing in the Community Investment Fund,” points out NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “Yet here’s the paradox: even though CIF balances reached an all-time high, the fund has returned a much lower percentage of grant dollars in 2008. This is due to federal interest rate cuts from January through September. So especially during these challenging economic times, we thank all 650-plus CIF investors, the NCUF Board and Grants Committee for allowing us to maintain our $600,000 in Innovation Grant commitments and reward credit unions serving low-wealth households.”
Click here to see how to invest in CIF!