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YUMA, Ariz. – A Fannie Mae mortgage program begun a year and half ago by AEA Federal Credit Union here to aid low income border families gain home ownership continues to show big increases in volume and is winning the plaudits of both state and federal lawmakers. “Having safe, quality affordable housing is the American dream and so our partnership with Fannie Mae demonstrates a commitment to improve the lives of families who might not be able to get housing on their own,” explained Ken Bredemeyer, president and CEO. In fact, the AEA program adopting Fannie Mae’s “Arizona Border Initiative” and which relies on borrower-contributed labor or sweat equity as a source for down payments has funded more than 1,000 loans totaling more than $70 million “Our unique partnership with Fannie Mae is a resounding example of the credit union philosophy of people helping people in action,” said Bredemeyer. AEA, with 41,000 members and a community charter spanning two counties, has long maintained “a search for new programs to match the needs of our economically diverse membership,” said Bredemeyer. In linking up with the Fannie Mae program in January 2004, AEA explained that the alliance enabled the Yuma CU to “break down barriers, lower costs, and increase access to homeownership to member families.” Elisa de la Vara, Phoenix director for Fannie Mae’s Community Business Center and Partnership Office, lauded AEA for contributing to a program which started out as a pilot experiment but is now “going very well.” She called it refreshing that the Yuma CU was willing to participate in a program which spans three border states-Arizona, Texas and New Mexico-and is aimed at getting low income families into homes on a self-help basis. U.S. Rep Raul Grijalva (D-Tucson) has also praised AEA for its participation and cited the Fannie Mae program as one which “creates entirely new mortgages for borrowers who may not qualify” though traditional sources. Since the program began, said Bredemeyer, there has been steady loan growth with 457 loans totaling $25.9 million in 2004 followed by 487 loans totaling $36.2 million in the first seven months of the year. “In August alone, we had 103 loans totaling $8.5 million,” noted a spokesman. The Fannie Mae “Arizona Border Initiative” stresses flexible lending options for minority and immigrant families and borrowers with limited savings for a down payment or with credit problems. “Non-traditional circumstances call for non-traditional solutions,” said Teresa Laurent, AEA vice president of member services. “We are approving home loans by using non-traditional loan approval methods and by partnering with non-profit organizations.” She cited Comite de Bien Estar, Inc. a local group that on its own provides grants for individuals in lower income brackets. Since the initiative with AEA was first announced, the Yuma CU has been working with Rep. Grijalva’s office as well as city officials from Yuma, San Luis and Somerton and from the Cocopah Indian Tribe. De la Vara of Fannie Mae said she has had contact with Yuma area banks on the program but so far AEA deserves praise for coming forward to sponsor the mortgage program. “Through our alliance with Fannie Mae, we are filling the void left by other financial institutions that are denying these families mortgage loans,” said Bredemeyer. “By helping those along our border realize the American dream of home ownership we are putting our mission to serve the underserved into action.” [email protected]

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