Language Gap for Homebuyers Closed
October 10, 2002 – Buying a home in the Bay Area can be a daunting experience for almost anyone. But for those who speak no or limited English, difficulties are often compounded by lack of home-buying education presented in their primary language.
To offset the barrier, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco (CCCS-SF) is offering First Time Homebuyers: The Basics workshop in Spanish. Participants will learn the benefits and advantages of homeownership and obtain an understanding of the entire home buying process. The workshop will also cover how to overcome the two biggest obstacles to homeownership: how credit history impacts one's ability to buy, and how to save for a down payment and closing costs by managing cash flow and modifying spending habits.
Julio Artiga, Certified Housing Counselor/Certified Credit Report Review Specialist for CCCS-SF, will facilitate the free workshop, held October 19th, from 9am to 1pm at 425 Market Street, 26th floor, rooms 2601/2602. Sponsored in part by a $1,000 Citibank grant, Jose Antonio Arce, Vice President of Community Investments/U.S. Western Region has arranged to have a Spanish-speaking representative at the event to answer loan related questions.
"Very often, Latinos whose primary language is Spanish do not get the hands-on direction about how to begin the process as compared to those whose primary language is English," explains Anton Mares, Housing Manager for CCCS-SF. "Our outreach is for anyone desiring to learn more about the home buying process. We would like to extend the same opportunity to everyone in our community, including those whose principal language is Spanish."
The timing for offering local housing education in Spanish couldn't be more prudent. According to a study by the University of Georgia's Selig Center, California leads the country in Latino buying power, which has increased 102 percent since 1990, compared with a 59.6 percent increase for non-Latino buying power.
Mortgage lenders are competing heavily for Latino business, offering original and culturally sensitive programs to help with qualification issues. Fannie Mae's Welcome Home loan program requires that potential borrowers have only a valid work permit rather than a green card to qualify for a loan, and takes into account special circumstances typically found in Hispanic immigrant communities. Innovative programs like this pay off. In 2001, one-third of the company's mortgages were for Latinos, lending a total of 32.5 billion dollars to more than 272 thousand Hispanic homeowners.
The focus of CCCS-SF's Housing Education Program is to provide quality homebuyer education to all members of the community. "While the reality is that the average cost for a home in the Bay Area is $425,000, it is important to recognize that your first home purchase is probably not going to be the home of your dreams," says Mares. "However, it is an opportunity to get your foot in the door. The essence of our program is to educate and show people the way to become a homeowner – regardless of language issues or income level."
CCCS-SF is a HUD certified, non-profit organization, offering free workshops, credit report review with mortgage lending scores, and pre-purchase, default mortgage and reverse mortgage housing counseling. For more information regarding the CCCS-SF Housing Education Program, contact Rick Harper at (415) 788-0288 ext. 109, or visit the CCCS-SF website at www.cccssf.org.
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