News & Events

Lupe’s Passion for NHS Lending

09/11/14 at 03:46 AM by Jillian Hanes

I’ve come prepared with pen in hand – ready for a barrage of rapid-fire information as I walk into the immaculate office at exactly 2pm for our meeting.  But she’s one step ahead of me, as usual.  Lupe Rodriguez, Neighborhood Housing Services’ Director of Homeownership Lending sits across from me with a warm smile on her face and slides four nicely formatted pages across the desk.  I already know they are the answers to the nine interview questions I emailed her only last week.  That’s Lupe.  Thorough. Professional. Ready to help.

For the past 6 years at NHS, Lupe has helped hundreds of Idaho residents, who thought they had no chance at homeownership, become proud homeowners by providing them with unconventional loans.  In the past year alone, she and her loan assistant, Holly Green have given over 25 households the opportunity for affordable homeownership by layering a 1st mortgage  with a second loan used for a down payment or closing cost assistance program.   

“Lupe goes above and beyond for her clients,” claims Holly.  With 17 years of experience in the residential lending industry, Lupe knows how to work around traditional mortgage financing – giving low- to moderate- income families and individuals a shot at the American Dream too. 

While I’m perusing her detailed answers (trying to determine how to put them in layman’s terms for the average reader), I ask the questions aloud just in case she wants to expand even further.

JH (interviewer):  You worked in the for-profit lending arena, and then you switched to the non-profit sector.  What is the biggest difference between the two?

Lupe: Our loans in the non-profit sector are harder and more complex.  We can spend months or over a year helping our clients get their credit in order so they can get a loan.  Since we have the ability to do our own financing with our own funds, we may be able to approve some borrowers that other lenders may not.  For example, we are able to go up to 140% of the area median income per family size and still obtain 100% financing, where many lenders can only go up to 80%.  Basically, the major difference is that we don’t turn borrowers away if they don’t have a credit score or a down payment.  Our job at NHS is to find ways to inform and educate them about programs and resources that can help them on their way to eventual homeownership.

JH: It sounds like a great option for people who are looking to buy their first home or maybe those who have been through financial troubles.  You must be super busy. Is lack of time the most challenging part about your job?

Lupe: It’s all a challenge, but it’s exciting too.  I guess you could say a challenge would be to find a balance, because it is so busy here.  We are never bored.  One specific challenge would be to attract consistent funding for our second loans, because we continue to run short on funds for them. These are different than our brokered loans, of course.  A couple years ago, we received $600,000 in CDFI (Community Development Financial Institutions) funds, and this year we plan on applying for that government grant again.  We are also rekindling a relationship with a local bank right now that could possibly help us solve this issue with our second loans.

JH: That’s exciting!  So you create partnerships with other lenders to find your clients more options.  Could you talk about this a little and share a current example?

Lupe: We have a new relationship with Les Bois Credit Union that has been very successful.  We are able to use our second loans in tandem with their first loans to eliminate the mortgage insurance and save our clients money.  They are easily comparable to FHA loans, but sometimes the layering we do lowers the monthly payment even more.

JH: You seem so passionate about your job.  Where do you find this passion, even after 6 years?

Lupe: Within, but also from being able to see our clients achieve homeownership.  It’s an empowering thing.  It’s really nice to not always say no to clients – approaching their situation by saying, “let’s see what we can work on to get you there.”  We get some amazing success stories by helping people from all different backgrounds and phases of life.

JH: That segues nicely to my next question.  Do you have a favorite success story from the clients you’ve worked with?

Lupe: That’s tough since there are so many good ones.   But we recently helped a refugee family of 8 – who came to the U.S. seeking political asylum – purchase their first home here.  The husband, wife and their 6 children started out in a cramped 3 bedroom apartment.  The husband got his CNA shortly after they moved here, and then got a second job.  His wife found a 4 bedroom house with much more room that she liked. They waited for a year after he got his second job to show their financial stability, and then bought the home through NHS’ lending program.  The husband and their 2 oldest children just obtained their U.S. citizenship last month, and the wife will be taking her citizenship test this month.  It’s such a positive outcome for their family as they get to start over in a home that they are proud to own.  I am thankful that we got to be a part of that, as well as many other peoples’ success stories.

JH: What an amazing story of overcoming adversity with hard work and patience!  It looks like NHS Lending is truly improving our community.  Are there any exciting future plans you have for your department?

Lupe: We have many plans on the horizon including: VA loans for military families, possibly a partnership with a lender that would offer a 100% financing retail mortgage, and perhaps even a separate NHS Lending website that would make us more accessible to potential borrowers.  We’re always looking to make things easier for our clients.

And with that final answer, I pick up my notes, thank the interviewee for her time, and turn toward the door when Lupe’s pleasant voice reminds me of something I wouldn’t dream of doing, “Don’t forget to send the article to me before you post it!”

For more information about Neighborhood Housing Services’ Mortgage Lending Program, contact Lupe at 258-6218 or

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