The Latino Community Foundation and First American To Host Summit on Homeownership

-Will Address Impact of Housing Shortage and Affordability on Growing Latino Population-


March 10, 2004, SAN FRANCISCO

The Latino Community Foundation and First American Title Insurance Company announced today a “call to action” summit to address the homeownership crisis for San Francisco Bay Area Latinos. The summit, entitled “Closing the Latino Home Ownership Gap - Challenges and Opportunities,” brings together leaders from the housing, non-profit, real estate, financial services and public sectors to discuss and identify specific action steps for the community to help solve the housing crisis.  The summit will take place on Friday, March 12, from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock, in San Jose, Calif.  

“The housing supply shortfall and resulting affordability crisis is having a disproportionately negative impact on San Francisco Bay Area Latino families,” said Pablo J. Wong, director of diversity marketing for First American Title’s Bay Area region. “Our goal in co-sponsoring the summit is two-fold.  First, we’re inviting key players in the homeownership process to come together to create solutions. Second, we’re demonstrating our commitment to producing community services and resources to help bridge the homeownership gap.  First American has already created several homebuyer solutions including discounted closing-cost programs, alternative credit products, first-time homebuyer seminars and special training for Realtors® serving the Latino community.  In addition to these effective solutions, we are committed to going further.”

“The Latino homeownership picture is mixed,” said Marcela Davison Avilés, executive director of the Latino Community Foundation.  “The good news is that, according to the most recent U.S. Census, Latino homeownership in the Bay Area is growing at nearly twice the rate of non-Latinos.   There are 1.4 million Latino residents in the Bay Area representing 21 percent of the total population.  This home-buying segment is expected to generate more than 30,000 property transactions over the next year.”  

“The bad news,” Avilés continued, “is a recent report by the Greenlining Institute that indicates that California has the second lowest homeownership rate in the nation.  In California only 56 percent of the population owns a home, versus 68.4 percent nationally.  Additionally, just 44 percent of California’s Latino families are homeowners, compared to 72 percent among non-minorities.   If this current gap in homeownership persists, California’s Latino population will not only represent the state’s new majority but also its largest caste of renters.”

The Greenlining Institute report, which analyzed 2002 conventional home-lending data by major financial institutions, concludes that despite being 34 percent of California's population, Latinos received only 18 percent of all conventional home loans. This represents a shortfall of 83,000 conventional home loans in 2002.   Working-class and low-income Latino households making less than $49,000 per year received only 3.2 percent of all conventional home loans.

 “Latinos continue to experience discriminatory practices and struggle in the home-buying process,” said Avilés.   “There are cultural, language and real estate barriers that often arise when the Latino community enters the home-buying process.   In addition, working with Realtors, lenders and other real estate professionals can be confusing to new buyers.  We are looking forward to identifying action steps from this summit of industry leaders and community organizations to find solutions to increase our community’s financial empowerment.”  

“Last year, First American and the Greenlining Institute, a multi-ethnic, public policy and advocacy organization, announced a partnership to promote homeownership among minority and low-to-moderate income families,” said Landon V. Taylor, vice president of market development for The First American Corporation.  “Our sponsorship of this important summit is one of many ways we are actively engaged in helping close the homeownership gap.” 

The Latino Community Foundation (www.latinocf.org), founded in 1989, is a community foundation investing in the social and economic empowerment of U.S. Latinos by focusing on three critical areas: early childhood reading, math/science achievement among Latino youth, and financial empowerment.  This mandate is significantly enhanced through a new partnership with The San Francisco Foundation, which was launched in 2002.

First American Title Insurance Company, the largest subsidiary of The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF), traces its history to 1889. One of the largest title insurers in the nation, the company offers title services through nearly 1,200 offices and an extensive network of agents throughout the United States and abroad. The company has its headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif. Information about The First American Corporation’s subsidiaries and an archive of its press releases can be found on the Internet at www.firstam.com.

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