US Congress Releases Cost Estimate for Mortgage Language Access Bill

Budget Office for Mortgage related language services

On March 8, 2022, the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a cost estimate for bill H.R. 3009, Improving Language Access in Mortgage Servicing Act of 2021.

CBO estimates direct spending for the bill to reach USD 7m between 2022 and 2026, and up to USD 13m from 2022 to 2031, assuming the bill would be enacted later this year.

Introduced in the House of Representatives in May 2021 by Democratic Texas Representative, Sylvia Garcia, whose constituency is reportedly 79% Latino, the bill establishes interpretation and document translation requirements related to residential mortgage applications for consumers of limited English proficiency (LEP).

H.R. 3009 would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to create a standardized form to track a borrower’s language preference — and translate the official English versions of federal mortgage documents into 12 languages. Creditors and mortgage servicers in the private sector would also be tasked with providing consumers access to translators and interpreters.

From the bill’s passage, the list of languages would include the eight most spoken by LEP individuals based on latest census data. Within three years of the bill’s enactment, four additional, regionally prevalent languages spoken by LEP communities would be incorporated. 

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According to the CBO, two main costs would result from the bill. First, increases in direct spending by the CFPB to meet the bill’s requirements. Second, spending (subject to appropriation) for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide language training for housing counselors, counseling agencies, and other staff.

The CBO does not expect annual increases in spending related to the bill to exceed USD 500,000.

Here’s a drill-down of the estimated total cost of USD 13m for 2022–2031 related to H.R. 3009.

  • USD 2m for four employees to issue new rules over two years;
  • USD 2m to translate documents;
  • USD 6m for information technology and staffing to establish, maintain, and update websites; and
  • USD 3m to establish and support an advisory group of stakeholders with experience improving language access in housing finance transactions.

The CBO anticipates that additional bill-related spending for the Federal Housing Finance Authority will be insignificant, as the agency can implement the bill’s requirements with existing staff and resources.