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Asian Pacific Americans Group Opposes Removal of Language Preference Question

August 13, 2019, 8:35 AM HST (Updated August 13, 2019, 8:36 AM)
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In opposition to the decision by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to remove language preference on the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA), the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued the following statement:

We strongly oppose the decision to remove the language preference section on the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) form by the FHFA. Language access is critical to many limited English proficient (LEP) individuals in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities—in fact, 70% of AAPI adults over the age of 18 are foreign-born and 80% prefer in-language materials. This is a rollback on consumer protection; particularly for AAPI communities and other communities of color.

The URLA is the standard form required for homebuyers applying for mortgage on a single family residence and it is also used across several federal agencies. The FHFA’s decision to move the language preference section to a separate, voluntary form will be much less effective as it would be optional for both the borrower and the lender, and thus may not be used at all. The FHFA’s unwillingness to do more to fully protect borrowers repeats the mistakes that led to the housing crisis that crippled our economy.

Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) National President Tom Truong said, “The URLA form’s language preference question is a vital resource in AREAA’s mission for greater AAPI homeownership. This question provides lenders and federal agencies data on AAPI homebuyers and their respective languages and ethnicities. Removing this question only further clouds the presence and importance of the AAPI community in the mortgage and real estate markets. AREAA is disheartened to hear the FHFA’s decision to remove the language preference section from the revised URLA form.”

“National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) Executive Director Seema Agnani stated, “We are appalled by the continued efforts to dismantle progress that had been made to improve housing access and meet the needs of all Americans. An inclusive, multi-year process to report a borrower’s preferred language in the URLA is being dismissed arbitrarily. This will prevent public and private institutions from responding to market changes. And it ignores the reality of disproportionate impact of the foreclosure crisis on communities that face language barriers. If FHFA were true to its mission of promoting stability in housing finance—understanding the language needs of current and future consumers would be a top priority.”

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About the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 35 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and to provide a national voice for its communities’ concerns. Its communities are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently making up approximately 6% of the population.

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