Taxpayer-Owned Citigroup Still Bankrolling ACORN

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Posted: Sep 29, 2009 7:24 AM
Now that we, the American taxpayers, own the majority of stocks in Citigroup, it might be time for the bailed-out bank to end its relationship with ACORN.  You'll remember that Citigroup has received $45 billion in taxpayer TARP funds, and we're on the hook for a good portion of the losses on company's $335 billion loan portfolio. 

The National Legal and Policy Center reports:
According to the 2008 annual tax return of the Citi Foundation, it provided the ACORN Institute, Inc. with grants of $500,000 for each of the years 2006, 2007 and 2008, for a total of $1.5 million.

According to the ACORN Institute website:

The ACORN Institute operates a countrywide network of ACORN Centers which (sic) provide free tax preparation, benefits enrollment, and foreclosure prevention services. In partnership with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)…

It continues:

Working in conjunction with major national partners such as Citigroup, H&R Block, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and others, ACORN Centers have an undeniable track record.

Citigroup is currently marketing a mortgage product through ACORN targeted at illegal aliens. According to a June 10, 2009 press release:

If you don't have a Social Security Number, but you do have an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), you may qualify for an ACORN program that offers 30-year fixed-rate financing with a very competitive interest rate. You can also use alternative lines of credit, such as rent and utilities, to qualify. An ITIN loan, for homebuyers who may be new to this country, who do not have a Social Security number, gets its name from “Individual Tax Identification Number.”

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“Once the homebuyer meets with the ACORN counselor and is pre-approved for an ITIN loan, the next step is to work with a loan officer,” said Brian Ellis, area manager with CitiMortgage. “Because the homebuyer is pre-approved by ACORN, their loan will automatically be a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loan with no PMI.”

The release continues:

CitiMortgage, as well as several other lenders, works with pre-approved ACORN clients through a national agreement with ACORN. “Because of our agreement, we can get applicants the best interest rates available for ITIN loans. Currently, those rates range from 6 to 6.5 percent, which is excellent anywhere in the market,” Ellis pointed out.

Once the client has been pre-approved through ACORN’s program, has met with a loan officer and is approved for the loan, they only need a minimum of $500 out-of-pocket for the transaction.

Adriana Vasquez, a housing counselor for ACORN, said her organization works with CitiBank and other lenders to make ITIN loans available for first-time homebuyers who do not have Social Security identification.