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A New Initiative to Reach LEP Borrowers

The share of low English proficiency (LEP) borrowers is growing in the mortgage market and to help more lenders, servicers, housing counselors, and other real estate professionals reach out to this group, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac announced the launch of Mortgage Translations on Monday.

Mortgage Translations is a centralized clearinghouse of online resources that will assist the industry to serve LEP borrowers. The online collection consists of mortgage documents, educational materials, and a new online Spanish-English glossary produced by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection in collaboration with FHFA and the GSEs. According to FHFA, the glossary is expected to be particularly helpful in standardizing translations across the mortgage industry.

"FHFA is proud to collaborate with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and so many others on this important initiative to help address language barriers that impede access to mortgage credit," said Janell Byrd-Chichester, Chief of Staff at FHFA. "The Mortgage Translations clearinghouse is one part of a Language Access Multi-Year Plan and includes a number of meaningful resources to help mortgage industry professionals reach a broader range of borrowers."

FHFA said that they collaborated with industry experts, consumer advocates, and other government agencies to develop this online repository.

Speaking on the new initiative by the three agencies Danny Gardner, SVP of single-family affordable lending and access to credit at Freddie Mac said that the materials included on the website would provide lenders, servicers, real estate professionals, and housing counselors with tools to "better assist, educate and engage LEP borrowers throughout the mortgage process."

Jonathon Lawless, VP for product development and affordable housing at Fannie Mae agreed, saying that the online resource would "educate, engage, and better assist LEP borrowers when shopping for a mortgage."

While the first phase consists of a collection of mortgage industry documents in Spanish, FHFA said that it would be adding these documents in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog in the coming years.

According to the U.S. Census, persons who speak Spanish as their primary language comprise more than 60 percent of the LEP population.

Learn more about Mortgage Translations here.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and editor. A former Online Editor and currently a reporter for MReport, she is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas.
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