Monday, September 07, 2015

NYC Fair Housing Group Squeezes Bankster Out Of $485K, Injunctive Relief To Settle Allegations That It Set Tougher Loan Underwriting Standards For Minorities Than It Did For Whites

In New York City, the Fair Housing Justice Center recently announced:
  • [F]ederal District Judge Katherine D. Forrest signed a settlement agreement which resolves a lawsuit filed in February by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and nine African American, Hispanic, South Asian and white testers against the M&T Bank Corporation.

    The lawsuit was based on the results of a two year testing investigation conducted by the FHJC. The complaint alleged that M&T Bank had adopted neighborhood racial criteria for one of its residential loan products and that loan officers had discriminated against FHJC testers based on race and national origin.

    Testers were trained to pose as prospective home buyers and request that loan officers help them figure out how much they could afford to purchase before beginning their search and prior to working with a real estate professional. In all cases, minority testers were assigned more income, greater assets, fewer debts, and better credit scores than their white counterparts.

    As part of the injunctive relief contained in the settlement, the Bank agreed not to use neighborhood racial criteria in any of its residential mortgage programs. M&T will adopt a bank-wide policy prohibiting steering, post its revised fair lending policy on its website, and retain a consultant to revise its fair lending training for loan officers and other Bank employees.

    Within the twelve-county service area covered by the FHJC, the Bank will revise its website to provide additional information about home loan products and add contact information for M&T loan officers. M&T loan officers in FHJC’s service area will also provide written estimates, upon request, to consumers concerning loan amounts, loan products, home purchase prices, interest rates, and down payment requirements. For the three years that the settlement is in effect, the Bank will provide Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data by loan product to the FHJC and allow the FHJC, upon request, to review documentation regarding the Bank’s fair lending training program.

    In addition to the injunctive relief, the bank will pay $485,000 to the plaintiffs for damages and attorney’s fees.
Source: M&T Bank and FHJC Resolve Fair Housing Case (Bank Pays $485,000 and Changes Lending Practices).

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