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Latinos Focus of Housing Effort

Real estate: Wells Fargo, National Council of La Raza will work together to boost home buying in Southland, elsewhere in U.S.

June 19, 2002|DARYL STRICKLAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc. and National Council of La Raza said Tuesday that they would join to encourage home buying among Latinos in nearly 20 metropolitan areas across the U.S., including Southern California.

Wells Fargo will provide bilingual loan counselors, educational materials written in Spanish and seminars that explain how to become a homeowner.

Wells Fargo branches in Southern California will work through affiliates of La Raza, the nation's largest civil rights group for Latinos, to locate potential home buyers. Affiliates include Watts Century Latino Organization in L.A. and Cabrillo Economic Development Corp. in Ventura.

"In the past, lenders focused on [the Latino] market because of regulatory reasons," said Jackson Cosey, senior vice president at Wells Fargo. "But from our perspective, we see this as a real business opportunity."

The announcement came a day after President Bush described plans to provide lower-cost housing and boost homeownership among minorities. Although about three out of four whites own houses, the latest U.S. figures show less than half of Latinos and African Americans hold title to a house.

Earlier this month, La Raza was one of several groups that supported a home buyer education Web site by secondary mortgage investor Freddie Mac at www.freddiemac.com/comprecasa.

Fannie Mae, another mortgage investor, pledged Monday to buy $100 million in mortgages over the next three years from brokers who belong to the National Assn. of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

"It's the market and economics and plain self-interest that's motivating them," Raul Yzaguirre, president of La Raza, said of Wells Fargo. "I think that's healthy."

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