As Hispanic Heritage month begins, Ginnie Mae is taking the opportunity to highlight its impact on the Latino community and the contributions and experiences of its Latino staff. Ginnie Mae is committed to serving all Americans equitably and its record serving the Latino community reflects that commitment. Last year, Ginnie Mae, through the FHA program, supported more than 220,000 Latino households in homeownership. To date this year, roughly 13% of Ginnie Mae’s FHA borrowers were Latino, and approximately 60,000 of these households were first time homeowners. Ethnicity reporting has evolved significantly over the last several decades, but conservative estimates indicate Ginnie Mae has served at least four million Latino FHA borrowers since its incorporation.
These contributions would be impossible without the efforts of Ginnie Mae’s dedicated staff and Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity to highlight the contributions of our Latino leaders.
Victoria Vargas, Director of Program Administration in the Office of Securities Operations, identifies as Mexican-American and has worked at Ginnie Mae for 18 years. She shares a formative life experience that led her to public service.
Like most people our world view is shaped by our childhood experience, mine was also influenced by the fact that I am the seventh of eight children and the daughter of a migrant-farmworker. We were not your typical migrants traversing south to north and north to south as the seasons changed. Not us; our family was growing and we needed a place to call home…a house…our own little piece of real estate. My parents chose to settle down in a small town in southern Idaho. Back in the early 1960’s there were not a lot of options for Latinos to get a mortgage, luckily for us our father was frugal and saved voraciously. Given today’s increasing home prices, it is hard to believe that he was able to save 50% of the purchase price. However, it was my father’s work ethic that sealed the deal, the farmers knew him, trusted him and vouched for him when he went to the bank to get a loan. Thanks to my dad and farmers in southern Idaho our family still has a place to call home. It certainly changed the course of my career and I am thankful for the opportunity to work in public service and support the dream of homeownership.
Diego Leguizamon, Senior Business Analyst in the Office of Securities Operations, identifies as Colombian-American and has worked at Ginnie Mae for 5 years. He shares a formative life experience that led to his public service.
Once I was introduced to the mortgage business, right out of college, I became what our industry describes as a “lifer.” For over 20 years, I worked in the origination business and for 13 years I was the co-owner of a Broker/Correspondent mortgage company. In the mid-nineties, there were very few Latinos serving the mortgage industry in any capacity. My company specialized in assisting Latino homebuyers because there was a big gap in Spanish-speaking loan originators, the loan origination process and work environment did not cater to Latinos. Our origination team translated the loan application and loan disclosures into Spanish to make the loan process easier for our borrowers. We grew rapidly because once I hired one Latino, there was usually a family member that followed them. Community is very important to Latinos, so our employees stayed on because they knew we were focusing on serving our community. I took the time to train my origination staff, often in Spanish, to make sure that our staff serviced our community professionally. I did not realize it at that time because I was just trying to grow my business, but many of my employees were not college educated and were trained by my company working in their first professional job. Several of them worked for me for many years because they liked the environment that we created for Latinos. Learning how to become a Correspondent Lender from a Broker gave me the experience and confidence to change my career path to mortgage-backed securities and become a part of Ginnie Mae. Now working at Ginnie Mae for 5 years, I take pride in staying in touch with over 20 former employees that are still working in the mortgage industry and succeeding. My first loan assistant that I trained personally was recently voted one of the top loan originators in the Southeast by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professional in 2021. It feels good to know that I had something to do with that.
Sam Valverde, EVP &COO, identifies as Peruvian-American and has been with Ginnie Mae for six months. He shares how homeownership served as a ladder of opportunity for his own family.
Across my career in public service, I have focused on housing policy because I know how transformative access to homeownership can be. My mother and aunts immigrated to New York in the late ‘60s from a rural community in Peru. Though they came here with very little, my mother and her sisters believed that owning a home would make them stakeholders in their community. They spent more than ten years working and saving so they could buy a home in which to raise me and my cousins. While many of our friends and peers moved further and further out of New York City in search of more affordable rents, my cousins and I had stability and could make use of the resources that the economic growth of our neighborhood made possible. We also knew that we had a safety net, if college seemed out of reach financially or if we suffered an economic setback, we had a resource many others did not. I bring this perspective to work with me every day. I know that what we do at Ginnie Mae is pivotal to changing lives and that our work can have a positive impact across generations.
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Sam Valverde is Executive Vice President and COO for Ginnie Mae