CAPAC Leaders Introduce Bill to Ease Homeownership for Non-English Speakers

Oct 23, 2019 Issues: Housing

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu (CA-27) and CAPAC Housing Task Force Chair Representatives Al Green (TX-09) introduced H.R. 4783, the Limited English Proficiency Data Acquisition in Mortgage Lending Act of 2019. The legislation was also co-led by Reps. Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) and William Lacy Clay (MO-01) and will reverse a Trump Administration decision in August to remove the preferred language question on the Universal Residential Loan Application (URLA). CAPAC Members released the following statements:        

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

 “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.”

Congressman Al Green (TX-09), CAPAC Housing Task Force Chair:

“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.”