Written By: Producer, Maggie Brown (maggiethe_journalist)
Through its tireless efforts, the NACA program has become a beacon of hope for minority families seeking to navigate the complexities of the housing market, offering comprehensive resources and innovative solutions that make home buying a reality for many minority families across America.
NACA stands for Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, and it is the largest non-profit HUD certified organization with over forty-five offices nationwide and a national counseling center.
According to its website, “NACA has been in the forefront of fighting predatory lending starting in the 1980s, and was the organization that coined the term “Predatory Lending”. NACA, through its counseling subsidiary, does about 30% of the total counseling in the country out of 1,800 HUD certified organizations. This comprehensive counseling and access to its Best in America mortgage, has established the standard for affordable homeownership for low-to-moderate income people.”
In order to be eligible for NACA’s programs, applicants must meet the following top five requirements:
- Demonstrated need: Applicants must demonstrate a need for affordable housing or mortgage assistance. This can be based on income level, current housing conditions, or other financial circumstances.
- Stable income: NACA requires applicants to have a stable and verifiable source of income. This ensures that they can afford their mortgage payments and meet their financial obligations.
- Credit history: While NACA does not have strict credit score requirements, they do assess an applicant’s credit history. A positive credit history, including timely payments and responsible financial behavior, strengthens the application.
- Residency status: NACA programs are typically available to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and certain non-permanent residents with legal status. Proof of residency status is required during the application process.
- Participate in NACA’s Homebuyer Education Program: Applicants must complete NACA’s comprehensive homebuyer education program, which provides valuable information and guidance on the homebuying process, financial management, and responsible homeownership.
Meeting these requirements is essential for individuals seeking assistance from NACA and aiming to benefit from their programs and services.
Kamara had the unique opportunity to conduct a one-on-one interview with Bruce Marks, the Founder and CEO of NACA. Bruce Marks is a renowned figure who has appeared on several prominent media platforms, including CNBC, the Karen Hunter Show, CNN Business, and many others.
Q&A with Bruce Marks
KD: So just to give you all some background, Bruce has helped thousands of people get a home, and he recently did an event in Newark, New Jersey, and about 20 to 30,000 people were at that event. His team has really been helping African Americans and Hispanics get in on the whole home buying process. So Bruce, I want to ask Why is it important for someone to own [a home]?
BM: Well, you know, there’s a lot of ways to answer that question… You know, we are in a housing crisis now, and this is not the first housing crisis that we’ve had.
So if you go back to 2008, we had a housing crisis, but was because of unaffordable mortgages [and] mortgages that were structured to fail. Now we have a housing crisis because we have unaffordable rents, so when you think about it as a renter, you’re not generating wealth for yourself, you’re regenerating wealth for a landlord.
So since you don’t have control [ over the home] you are subjected to whatever the landlord wants to do, … I think you can look at it in two ways, [ one being] if you are a homeowner, you can generate wealth for yourself, but [secondly], which is just as important, and maybe even more important is that you control your house.
You’re not subjected to predatory abusive landlords, who all they care about is to maximize the rent.
So it’s both a control of your destiny of your home and to generate wealth for yourself, not for these landlords.
KD: You know, I think that’s really important because when most people get out of college, they’re taught get a nice apartment. So they’re paying $2,500 – $3,000 [for rent], … and some of those people stay [in that apartment] for a long period of time. So why did you start [NACA]?
BM: … [First] I want to address that homeownership is not for everybody right away. You have to be willing to live in these areas for a long time.
As a young person, it might not be the right answer right away. So [this] actually, it gets into why I started back.
My background is, I come from a middle to upper middle class area, so the real people that I grew up with have a sense of entitlement, you know, predominately white areas.
When I was growing up, I had a number of friends who were people of color who didn’t have the same opportunities that I did. I’m a product of the 1970s, [where some fought through] the Civil Rights Movement and fought for economic justice. So I wanted to go about it from an advocacy point of view, but I wanted to learn the enemy so I have an undergraduate in economics, and I went to do my MBA at NYU New York University, majoring in finance to learn the enemy on Wall Street, because that’s where a lot of the people went for training on Wall Street.
They went to NYU, so I went there, and then I got a job at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to learn the enemy. I was in the domestic applications area.
…. If you look at the Capital Asset Management, equity, and liquidity of these banks, you [may] figure out that every one of these financial institutions were doing something illegal. It might not be where they were so blatant that they’re saying we have racist lending practices; which a lot of them did, and do, but they would go about it a different way. They’d say, [it is] based on credit score, or other factors when in fact, they didn’t want to lend, and wouldn’t lend to people of color.
So I went out and tried to work with a nonprofits, they weren’t all that you know, interested. So I ended up moving to Boston working with the hotel workers union local 26 and started there, but it was never about housing. It was always about economic justice. I was gonna be a union organizer, and to make a long story short, we looked at the pension monies they had to invest … and we did the impossible. … We actually negotiated for a housing benefit, and got it.
There was an 18 month clock on it, so we had to go to Washington and change the Taft Hartley Act, which had never been changed by local union ever, … and the first George Bush signed it.
KD: How does NACA prevent evictions and foreclosures?
BM: If you’re at risk of being homeless, or at risk of being foreclosed on then NACA is the place to be. You can go to one of our 47 offices around the country, or you do the remote counseling. We set up the best solutions out there for both homeowners [trying] to save their homes, and homebuyers [trying] to achieve affordable homeownership.
… [Ask yourself], what are the four barriers that prevent [individuals] from achieving affordable homeownership?
- Although people work hard, it’s tough to save. So the NACA’s solution is no downpayment and no closing costs.
- The restrictive underwriting based on one’s credit score, but that credit score might be low, because you did not make your medical payments. Well, not making your middle medical payment is not a reflection of whether you’re ready for homeownership. It just says we have a dysfunctional unaffordable health care system. So the NACA solution is we focused on the last 12 months of payments that someone controls. So you exclude out affordable bills and things like that, and you never consider one’s credit score, only their payment history that they control.
- Unaffordable terms. The NACA solution is always the lowest fixed rate at a below market. So today’s rate is 6% for 30 year, and it’s 5.5% for 20 year or 15 year fully amortizing mortgage.
- Deal with racism biases. So the NACA solution is to pre-approve homebuyers so they become a desirable customer for real estate agents, sellers and investors. We’ve done that for over more than 20 years.
We’ve done over 75,000 mortgages and we have a foreclosure rate of 0.0001 to about 100th of 1%. That’s probably the best performance in the industry, bar none. So we’ve demonstrated that NACA is the place to be if you are a homeowner at risk of foreclosure or you’re a homebuyer wanting an affordable mortgage.
BM cont.: If you were to go to any of the banks and just say, what is your 30 year rate? They won’t tell you; what they’ll say is put your information into our system, and then they’ll spit out the rate.
I always say, … you can’t trust these banks or you can’t trust people in the financial industry or the mortgage industry. There’s more criminals in the mortgage and the real estate industry than any other industry. There’s more fraud and abuse in this industry than any other industry that exists. So the fact of the matter is, that everybody out there to rip you off. The our workshops, [we ask], “Hey, raise your hand if you think it sounds too good to be true; doing no downpayment, no closing costs, no fees, and market fixed rate,” people raise their hands.
Then we then we ask people, “raise your hand if you heard about NACA from family, friends, co workers and neighbors,”everybody raises their hand. We don’t market NACA, people tell other people if you want affordable homeownership, you come to NACA. So the word particularly in the communities of color, is if you want affordable homeownership, you come to NACA. I can only say that NACA is an absolute success since June of 2019, because we did a huge event at the World Resource Center in Queens, New York. We had over 20,000 people and virtually 100% People of Color. We are open to everybody but you know, the word is out with no marketing and no outreach.
Everybody heard about NACA from someone they trusted, right? And then we keep doing that in Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis and around the country and it’s word of mouth, and we just did one in Newark, where we had over 25,000 people [without doing any marketing], just word of mouth. That’s the best reflection of the organization.
KD: I like this because … numbers don’t lie, and if you can pack out a room with 30,000 people after COVID of Black and Hispanic people and they are coming for home ownership. That means that you have a very high track record of success. So that’s one of the things that drew me to you.
Another thing is that your company is here to help people, and debunk a lot of the myths that are going out about only buying a home if you have X Y & Z, but you said no, it actually can be a more simpler process.
When is your next big event?
BM: We’re going to have an event on July 28, 29th, and 30th. It will be in Conyers, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. We’re going to have the NACA home there. We’re now building modular homes that are beautiful homes that often go to millionaires and billionaires … But we’re building them for working people from low and moderate income buyers. We’re making them affordable, beautiful homes, and we’re gonna have a model there so people can see it.
These homes are going to be about $114,000 square feet, with three bedrooms, two baths, beautiful kitchen area, living area, and all that. So that means that someone who will have a mortgage payment of around $900 a month with no government subsidies to add on. What we did in Newark and we’re doing it in Rockdale County, Georgia, and in Lima, Ohio, and around the country is the $1 program, which is a program where the city which owns a lot of land, vacant lots, and abandoned housing, and they sell them to NACA candidates for $1. Then we’re going to finance the renovation of that vacant home or the new construction and put a NACA home in there that’s been really affordable.
I want to be clear, you don’t have to come all three days, we want you to come to the NACA event because we can get through the whole process in one day.Remember, it’s a four step process. If you do a workshop step one, upload your data and your documents step two, meet with a NACA counselor step three, and go to NACA underwriting step four, that can get done in one day. You can also go to the NACA website and start the process and do this anywhere in the country. It may take longer, but you’ll get the same high quality counseling.
Remember, NACA is the largest HUD certified counseling organization in the country. There’s 1700 counseling agencies. We’re one. We do about 30% of the counseling in this country. And frankly, we probably do it better than anybody else.
If you have any questions or want to apply for a home please visit their website and go here.