Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Lack of Service to Language Barriers Probably Costs All of Us

What if they had provisionally been able to access mortgage advice in their own language about predatory lending?
A large share of those who took out risky loans were recent immigrants who spoke little English, said Gabe del Rio, vice president of lending and homeownership at Community HousingWorks, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing. Many who have come to his agency for counseling say they didn't understand the terms of their loans.

Residents forced to vacate their homes leave a void in the neighborhood, said Enrique Gandarilla, executive director of the City Heights Business Association. Until recently, the ethnically diverse community was on the upswing, as government and businesses invested in civic buildings, retail stores and affordable housing in the central San Diego neighborhood.

The housing market downturn “has definitely threatened all that progress,” Gandarilla said. “It's only getting worse. A lot of loans were made to people who never should have gotten them. The impact on the community is terrible. You have vandalism. You have deterioration in values. You see homes that now are targeted by graffiti.”
English Only charter amendments don't suit the short-term demands of making informed consumer decisions or the financial health of neighborhoods.

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