Matricula Consular Eliminates Barriers

Elkhart Housing Partnership was honored to work with local Hispanic leaders from Mega Plaza, El Puente and La Prensa Hispana in organizing the recent Mexican Consulate visit to Elkhart County. The experience confirmed what many of us already knew about the desires of thousands of Elkhart working families who want access to the financial and public services that many U.S. residents take for granted. The lack of bank-accepted ID such as a social security number, has limited the ability of foreign-born residents to open checking and savings accounts. The policy of banks has in effect denied Hispanics and Latinos the opportunity to establish credit with banks and other businesses. With reduced access to U.S. banks, foreign nationals have been forced to pay often-excessive fees for check cashing, money wiring, and consumer loans. With the Matricula Consular ­ an official ID issued by the Mexican Consulate ­ now accepted at over 7 local banks card holder choices expand significantly.

This week, the local Mexican community clearly demonstrated the importance and value of investing in private, government regulated banks. An estimated twenty percent of the 2,000+ Mexican nationals that were issued an ID at Mega Plaza opened an account at one of the event’s five sponsoring banks. This unprecedented number of account openings far exceeded the expectations of both bankers and organizers alike. Having bi-lingual account representatives on-hand to educate participants about their various products and services certainly contributed to the overall success of these banks.

With ID and language barriers out of the way, new account holders will have even greater access to loan products specifically designed for first-time homebuyers. However, not every loan is right for every purchaser. With an unpredictable economy and ___% of Indiana home sales ending in foreclosure, it is especially important that prospective buyers set realistic goals of how much they can afford to finance and at what cost. Elkhart Housing Partnership’s homebuyer education can help families facing such challenges overcome the final barriers to homeownership.

Contributed by Don Lambert. For more information call (574) 524-9055.