MIAMI – Homeownership has long been central to Americans' ability to amass wealth, but as South Florida struggles to deal with the bitter tales of the affordable housing crisis, mortgage lenders continue to shun the poor with burdening demands.
More than a decade after the housing crash, the banking industry's fear of going up in flames with high-risk loans continues to fuel high-cost loans that mostly target poor minorities. It's a system that has turned the dream of owning a home into a mirage.
Bruce Marks believes that patching this rip in the safety net is possible. In 1988, he founded the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America to fight predatory lenders and to promote economic justice through home ownership. His nonprofit hosts public events to help buyers.
"NACA will continue these events -- with more than 20 events planned through 2018 -- providing unprecedented affordable homeownership opportunities to tens of thousands of working people nationwide," Marks said in a statement.
This year, NACA is running the Achieve the Dream tour to help buyers apply for loans and be approved for the NACA mortgage -- at a below-market interest rate -- within four days. The program doesn't require a down payment or credit score consideration. It also doesn't have closing costs or fees.
Marks wants to rekindle the hope of low-income families. He also wants to show that it is sustainable to lend to poor buyers while remaining profitable and he wants to redeem the fundamental principles of subprime lending with terms buyers can afford.
His homeownership initiative is hosting an event from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday to Sunday at the Double Tree Hotel at 711 NW 72 Ave. in Miami-Dade. NACA's program, which has $13 billion committed from some of the country's largest lenders, is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to a study the nonprofit commissioned to the Promontory Financial Group only 2.6 percent of NACA borrowers lost their homes to foreclosure from 2004 to 2006. NACA requires borrowers to contribute to a savings fund that prevents defaults.
Applicants must not own another property and must occupy the home. There are no income requirements to participate in the program.
If the property is in a condo project, the building must be at least 50 percent owner-occupied and have a sound homeowner association. The NACA membership also has a voter registration requirement if it is legally permissible.
Applicants need to provide counselors onsite with personal information, identification, bank statements for 90 days, an active e-mail account, and information about the household and the dependents. The counselors will also need two years of employment history, and information about active debts, liens and judgments.
For more information about registration, visit NACA's site or call 281-968-6222. Walk-ins are also welcome.