AmeriDream Inc., a non-profit provider of mortgage down-payment assistance, on Monday announced it is now accepting Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) from potential home buyers in an effort to expand home ownership.

ITINs are tax processing numbers issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who do not have, or who are not eligible for, Social Security Numbers. ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have U.S. tax returns and payment responsibilities under the IRS.

According to a study prepared for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, immigration status creates major barriers to home ownership. The study also stated that, increasingly, lenders are accepting ITINs as a form of identification. To meet the needs of the industry, AmeriDream will accept ITINs if a home buyer’s loan product allows for it, and they choose to use the AmeriDream Downpayment Assistance Program.

“We recognize that the use of ITINs can be a controversial issue,” said Ann Ashburn, AmeriDream president and CEO. “However, there have been an increasing number of private lenders throughout the country that have begun ITIN loan and mortgage insurance programs.”

The NAHREP study estimates that the purchase of homes through ITIN mortgages would translate into $44 billion in mortgage originations.

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