ITIN Mortgage Helps Residents Without SSN Become Homeowners | New

Update: This article has been updated to correct inaccurate information about high rents in the Hispanic community.

A new Federal Security Savings Bank loan program aims to level the playing field for Cass County residents who don’t have a Social Security number, including many members of the Hispanic community.

For residents who do not have SSN, including undocumented immigrants, it is almost impossible to receive a loan from a bank. However, many have individual tax identification numbers (ITINs). Security Federal Savings Bank, located at 314 4th St., has created a new mortgage loan program that uses ITINs instead of Social Security numbers to help these residents become homeowners.

“We recognized that this is an important segment of the communities that we serve, the market area that we serve,” said Annette Russell, President and CEO of Security Federal Savings Bank. “As a community bank, we want to be able to provide products and services that meet the needs of all members of the community.”

The origins of the program came about because the Hispanic population had grown 40% in Cass and Tippecanoe counties over the past decade and there was general frustration among that population at being ineligible for a ready.

“So it kind of disallowed them being able to save for any future property, because it was all for rent that they weren’t building any equity in, any property,” Russell said. “So we’re trying to better position them to provide them with that financial stability and ownership so they can build equity.”

The loan program began in the fall of 2021. Individuals applying for a loan must provide valid identification other than a driver’s license, documented source of income, proof of employment and proof of credit .

Alternative sources of credit can be used to help those who have not established credit. Bryan Martinez, the originator of the loan from Logansport Bank, described the alternatives as a monthly payment to Netflix, something purchased under contract, anything that shows the applicant can make a monthly payment.

“We have a credit builder loan that we offer to our ITIN customers,” said Julia Snipes, the bank’s marketing manager. “It’s a secured loan that allows them to accept extra help for items that can help them on their journey to home ownership. If they don’t have any credit but also don’t have the alternative credit we need to take out the loan, this credit building loan can help them at the very beginning of the journey.

There are also options to refinance a loan under the program. Martinez was able to help Jose Garcia and Cristina Salazar refinance their home, reducing their payments by nearly $600 a month.

Garcia said there were businesses that would help community members buy a home but charge high interest rates, saying 10% interest was usually the best-case scenario.

The family paid their monthly loan, but the interest was so high they never gained ground. With the help of Federal Security, they can now work on paying off the principal loan while saving money.

They said they considered the bank like family because of the help they had received.

Lafayette residents Jose de Rios and Maria Aguilar had been living in their rental for seven years when the owner decided to sell the house. They had little time to find a new place to live and move. One day, their daughter saw an advertisement for the loan on Facebook and encouraged her father to apply. Their local Federal Security Savings Bank gave them a loan and they were able to get a new house.

“We’re proud to be able to offer this to the Hispanic community,” said Lucia Vela, loan originator at the Lafayette location. “Often people perceive it as too difficult or they are afraid of not qualifying. The reality is that you just need to try. See where you are. You may not qualify today, but we can work out a game plan to get you to the finish line.

Vela said the Hispanic population is very financially savvy and responsible with their money. She said it was important to help them overcome the obstacles they face so they can become homeowners.

“We’ve found as an institution that it’s beneficial, not just for the bank, but for the community we serve,” she said.

The bank is working hard to serve the Hispanic population, hiring bilingual employees, modifying traditional programs to meet the needs of new demographics, and printing forms in Spanish. They also formed a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force in 2021.

“It’s our attempt to ensure that people who are unserved or underserved by the financial services industry are served equitably,” Russell said. “We want to make sure that everyone feels welcome when they walk into a branch of Federal Security, that they are treated fairly, and that we provide them with a product that is in their best interest.”

Garcia hopes people will be made aware of the opportunity and trust the process. Sometimes for people it’s hard to trust, he said.

“That opportunity hasn’t been in Logansport,” Garcia said. “There’s a big door open for people who haven’t had the opportunity to do this before.”

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