FHFA translates mortgage servicing scripts for coronavirus aid

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Soon after the coronavirus crisis began, the Federal Housing Finance Agency posted information that servicers could use to help borrowers with hardships related to the pandemic. Now as part of ongoing efforts to improve that information, it has revised and translated some of it into five languages to aid those with limited English proficiency.

The scripts and revised mortgage application assistance are posted in the FHFA's online clearinghouse for translation services, a resource it provides to support LEP borrowers. The clearinghouse contains some third-party information and the FHFA does not guarantee its accuracy.

Almost 22% of people in the United States speak a language other than English at home and nearly 9% of the U.S. population has limited English proficiency, according to Census Bureau estimates.

The language most frequently spoken by LEP consumers is Spanish, followed by Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog, which is a dialect of the Filipino language. These languages, in addition to English, are included in the FHFA's clearinghouse.

The FHFA at one point considered incorporating a language question into the Uniform Residential Loan Application that the government-sponsored enterprises are in the process of implementing. It ultimately decided not to, in part due to pushback from industry entities like the Mortgage Bankers Association, which argued that such a move would lead to "heightened borrower expectations" about a lender’s ability to provide forms and services for LEP borrowers.

URLA implementation has been postponed but is on track to be completed early next year. Use of the URLA for new GSE loan applications becomes mandatory on March 1, 2021.

But the FHFA isn't the only entity considering language barriers today. This week, Homebot and Alterra Home Loans introduced an automated resource for bilingual borrowers using their online portal.

The portal, which Homebot is providing to Alterra's loan officers through an enterprise agreement, aims to support contact with borrowers who speak Spanish and English throughout the homeownership life cycle.

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