Treasure Valley's housing not so golden

  Despite a strong economy and low interest rates, the nearly 20,000 Latinos in southwest Idaho have a hard time finding affordable housing. According to Wayne Hoffman, a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, Latinos in Treasure Valley are 2.5 times more likely to be denied conventional home mortgages and home improvement loans than whites. Hoffman's report, written for his Nampa, Idaho, paper, also reveals that the percentage of loans denied has been growing since 1992. Lenders say the numbers mean Latino applicants generally have less credit history and lower income than their counterparts. Richard Mabbutt of the Intermountain Fair Housing Council says discrimination can start at the bank's front door: "Some banks try to have bilingual people pretty available, but you're not generally going to be able to walk into a lending institution and meet with someone who is culturally or linguistically similar." Securing a loan isn't the only obstacle for Idaho Latinos. Neither the local housing authority nor the state's housing agency, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, provide instruction forms in Spanish.

For a copy of the Press-Tribune report, call Wayne Hoffman at 208/465-8117, or visit the paper's Web site at - Ali Macalady
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