New initiative announced to address “redlining” of neighborhoods

Massachusetts

BOSTON (WWLP) – “Redlining” is an illegal practice in which lenders avoid providing services to individuals living in communities of color because of the race or national origin of the people who live in those communities.

The new Combatting Redlining Initiative was created by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Divisioto stop the practice of denying mortgage lending services for communities of color. The initiative represents the Department’s most aggressive and coordinated enforcement effort to address redlining, which is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Historically, owning a home has been the most effective way for individuals to build wealth. Denying access to funding has lessened this opportunity to communities of color. The gap in homeownership rates between white and Black families is larger today than it was in 1960, before the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Individuals may report lending discrimination by calling The Department of Justice’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-833-591-0291 or submitting a report online.

The Initiative, which is led by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, seeks to make mortgage credit and homeownership accessible to all Americans on the same terms, regardless of race or national origin and regardless of the neighborhood where they live. The initiative will:

  • Utilize U.S. Attorneys’ Offices as force multipliers to ensure that fair lending enforcement is informed by local expertise on housing markets and the credit needs of local communities of color;
  • Expand the Department of Justice’s analyses of potential redlining to both depository and non-depository institutions.  Non-depository lenders are not traditional banks and do not provide typical banking services, but engage in mortgage lending and now represent the majority of mortgages lenders in the country;
  • Strengthen our partnership with financial regulatory agencies to ensure the identification and referrals of fair lending violations to the Department of Justice;
  • Increase coordination with State Attorneys General on potential fair lending violations.

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