DES MOINES, Iowa (10/28/08)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has presented a $24,050 Innovation Grant to build a Latino Real Estate Coalition to refer Spanish-speaking homebuyers in the Des Moines area to affordable credit union mortgages. “The Latino Real Estate Coalition will address the need for ethical practices among minorities and serve as an informal policing of best practices,” envisioned Debbie Whittie, CEO of Village CU, which will pilot the project in Iowa. Through the grant, Village CU will:
* Educate Latinos about the importance of credit scores in the U.S., and provide opportunities to build credit affordably and safely; * Build a coalition of professionals such as realtors, builders, appraisers and lenders to help Latinos buy homes; and * Create a best practices report, which can be shared as a model throughout the country.
Village CU will work with Coopera Consulting, a subsidiary of the Iowa Credit Union League that partners with credit unions seeking to grow membership in emerging markets. “Credit unions are often left out when real estate agents partner with mortgage brokers,” said NCUF Deputy Director Steve Bosack, staff liaison to the NCUF Grants Committee. “And much too often, minority homebuyers are steered toward sub-prime mortgages. Being on the ground floor of a Latino Real Estate Coalition would give credit unions a strong foothold to provide sustainable low-cost homeownership opportunities for Latinos." Best practices from the coalition may also be incorporated into NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions, which offers several low-cost homeownership options, including Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) mortgages advocated by the Credit Union National Association. HLPR mortgages are priced as low as 1% below the nationwide average. Innovation grants are made possible through credit unions’ investments in the Community Investment Fund.