Urges More Enforcement of Nation's Anti-Discrimination Laws
WASHINGTON, July 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Justice announced the second largest fair lending settlement in U.S. history, resolving allegations that Wells Fargo engaged in large-scale mortgage lending discrimination against African Americans and Latino borrowers from 2004 to 2009:
"The National Fair Housing Alliance applauds the Department of Justice for holding Wells Fargo accountable for widespread discriminatory lending practices that we know have damaged communities across the country and undermined our nation's mortgage market. Borrowers were charged higher prices and placed in riskier loans not because of their credit histories, but because of the color of their skin. The settlement with Wells Fargo will provide $175 million to compensate borrowers and offer down payment assistance to residents, but we know much more needs to be done by our nation's banks to repair the damage to communities of color that have been long-time targets of lending discrimination.
"The actions of many of our nation's largest lenders have also led to a large inventory of bank-owned properties that are not being properly maintained or marketed in communities of color. As a result, many municipalities are left with a declining tax base and neighborhoods are now battling public safety and health hazards because of unkempt bank-owned properties.
"In April 2012, the National Fair Housing Alliance published a report documenting how major banks have engaged in racial discrimination in the maintenance and marketing of bank-owned properties, The Banks Are Back – Our Neighborhoods Are Not: Discrimination in the Maintenance and Marketing of REO Properties and filed a Fair Housing Act complaint against Wells Fargo for engaging in this unlawful practice. The report's recommendations focus on keeping borrowers in their homes and strengthening neighborhoods through continued homeownership rather than investor purchases.
"Communities of color have long been the victims of higher cost subprime loans and other abusive loan products. Borrowers of color have endured the worst of the foreclosure crisis losing billions of dollars in assets and increasing the enormous wealth gap between whites, African-Americans and Latinos.
"We applaud the DOJ for requiring the nation's largest originator of home mortgages to conduct an internal review of its retail mortgage lending practices. Discrimination is not only wrong, but it creates wasteful inefficiencies in our struggling economy. The practice must stop as it is not consistent with our American values of fairness and equality."
About the National Fair Housing Alliance (www.nationalfairhousing.org)
Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 220 private, non-profit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Through comprehensive education, advocacy and enforcement programs, NFHA protects and promotes residential integration and equal access to apartments, houses, mortgage loans and insurance policies for all residents of the nation.
SOURCE National Fair Housing Alliance