The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced a settlement in a Fair Housing case involving an Illinois lender. According to a press release at the HUD official site, a recent settlement with Alpine Bank & Trust settles allegations that, “the Northern Illinois-based lender discriminated against African American and Hispanic mortgage applicants.”
According to the press release, HOPE Fair Housing Center located in Wheaton, Illinois, “filed a complaint with HUD claiming the lender’s business service areas excluded majority African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods”.
Fair Housing Act regulations make it illegal for any person or company to discriminate against applicants for non-financial reasons such as race, religion, national origin, family status, gender identity, etc.
According to the HUD official site, “HOPE Fair Housing Center alleged the bank’s lack of a presence in majority African-American and Hispanic communities in the Rockford area made financial products less available to potential applicants based on their race and national origin.”
Among the complaints in the case, the HUD official site reports, “that of Alpine’s 14 branch locations, only one is in a Census tract that is more than 10 percent African American. In addition, HOPE’s complaint alleged that the lender provided white applicants with better information, and offered them more favorable terms and conditions than African American and Hispanic applicants”.
The settlement results in Alpine Bank committing to more outreach in the affected communities, plus $75 thousand dollars in monetary damages to paid to HOPE, and required training for the lending staff.
We report on these cases as they are announced because without Fair Housing complaints from borrowers or communities affected by illegal discrimination, the authorities may be unaware of the problem. Fair Housing Act complaints are often HUD’s first indication that discrimination is happening.
If you suspect Fair Housing Act violations, contact HUD as soon as possible by calling the office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777. You can also report violations online at www.hud.gov/fairhousing