Community Impact | June 30, 2022

UFCU Expands Spanish-Language Services

UFCU has been #1 on the Austin Business Journal’s list of Top Mortgage Companies for six consecutive years, but there’s more to be done for Spanish-speaking communities across Central Texas. So the award-winning lending team is making every effort to put home ownership in reach for every Member, including those who do not claim English as their native language.

The United States Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey found that only about 65% of the Texas population speaks English at home. The remaining 35% speak many other languages, the most common of which is Spanish.

UFCU has long offered Spanish-speaking services, whether you’re visiting a branch, or calling in to talk to a representative. Specifically, the UFCU Mortgage Services Community Outreach program is dedicated to supporting Members with a language barrier in the Spanish-speaking community. The program launched in 2016, and with what seems to be a greater need since the onset of the pandemic, they want their Members, potential Members, and partners in the lending community (such as real estate agents and title companies) to know that UFCU is here to help with a Spanish-speaking option to meet the needs of any borrowers who prefer to do their business in Spanish.

Jorge Trevino is UFCU’s community outreach mortgage loan officer. He’s been with the organization since 2011. Mr. Trevino said, “It is important to us that our Spanish-speaking borrowers understand the loan-approval process and how current events might be impacting the industry.”

For example, borrowers might reach out to UFCU after having been denied at another financial institution. In many cases, these individuals did not receive a good explanation as to why their application was rejected. This program focuses on education and information. The goal is for every Member to understand what’s happening, why, and perhaps most importantly, what they can do to move forward on their journey toward improved financial health.

“We want our Spanish-speaking borrowers to know they’ll be taken care of. Maybe they’re interested in attending a seminar that’s being presented in English. They can reach out, and we’ll make sure a bilingual representative attends alongside them. Or maybe they have dreams of buying their first home. Industry-jargon can be tricky in any language. Being able to hear some of those finer points in one’s native language really can clarify the details and also relieve anxiety. We want to be there for our Members on their terms,” Mr. Trevino explained.

Buying a home is often the largest financial investment a person will make in their lifetime. The process can be intimidating for first-time buyers without someone to help them along the way. Rosalinda Nino-Reyes works closely with Mr. Trevino. As the housing opportunity mortgage loan officer, Ms. Nino-Reyes helps Members who have been qualified by Austin Habitat for Humanity®.

A partnership between UFCU and Austin Habitat makes housing accessible for participants who may not otherwise have a clear path to homeownership, and many of them are native Spanish speakers. Ms. Nino-Reyes offers loan coaching to qualified participants in their preferred language, and helps them understand the loan-approval process. Since 2020 when the program began, UFCU has helped 41 participants become homeowners, and soon they will close eight more currently under contract.

Ms. Nino-Reyes shared, “There is great demand for bilingual service. People come from all walks of life, and regardless of where they come from, people just want help. We don’t just speak Spanish here. We truly want to take the time to walk through all of the steps with our Members. It feels good to do what we do.”