The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), in partnership with Freddie Mac and other private sector partners, will create a nationwide digital network designed to help Latino families achieve the dream of home ownership. NCLR will connect twenty sites across the country to an integrated, online real estate information system. Focused on increasing Latino home ownership, the system will provide sources of bilingual information on the home ownership process; underwriting software to reduce time needed to qualify families for mortgages; dozens of mortgage products designed for lower-income families; and the ability to apply for mortgage financing online. The uniform mortgage underwriting system will allow counselors at pilot sites rapidly to assess individual families' financial status, and identify mortgage products and lenders most appropriate for those families. The software will also help identify specific actions families who do not qualify can take to increase their ability to access financing to purchase the homes they want. The system will improve NCLR's information dissemination and sharing capabilities through the use of email, listservs, a bulletin board system, online training sessions, online surveys and discussion forums, and improved database capabilities for tracking and reporting outcomes.
Access to affordable home ownership is a pillar of the American dream and an important instrument for wealth creation, asset development, and neighborhood stability. Unfortunately, home ownership among the Latino community is only 46 percent, while nearly 74 percent of white Americans own their homes. The NCLR believes that technology can help reduce the disparities in access to affordable home ownership opportunities for lower-income Latino families. The integrated housing counseling program will serve as a model for how service providers can harness emerging technology-based tools to improve home ownership rates. The feedback from the twenty pilot sites will help fine-tune the system. NCLR will encourage its replication throughout its network of over 250 affiliates nationwide, and among independent organizations providing services to the Latino community.
NCLR will partner with Freddie Mac and Real Estate en Espanol (the Association of Latino/Bilingual Realtors), as well as its existing partners, including Bank of American, State Farm Insurance, and Fannie Mae.