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New initiative looks to combat illegal racial profiling in Kansas mortgage lending

FILE - House on the market in Wichita, Kansas
FILE - House on the market in Wichita, Kansas(KWCH)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 12:40 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas U.S. Attorney’s Office has teamed up with the Department of Justice to combat illegal racial profiling in mortgage lending.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas says it has partnered with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to launch the new Combatting Redlining Initiative.

The Office said redlining is an illegal practice in which lenders avoid providing services to those living in communities of color due to the race or national origin of those who live in those communities. It said the new Initiative represents the department’s most aggressive and coordinated enforcement effort to address redlining, which was prohibited by the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

“Lending discrimination runs counter to fundamental promises of our economic system. When people are denied credit simply because of their race or national origin, their ability to share in our nation’s prosperity is all but eliminated,” said Attorney General Garland. “Today, we are committing ourselves to addressing modern-day redlining by making far more robust use of our fair lending authorities. We will spare no resource to ensure that federal fair lending laws are vigorously enforced and that financial institutions provide equal opportunity for every American to obtain credit.”

The Office said redlining is a practice institutionalized by the federal government during the New Deal era and implemented then and now by private lenders. It said the practice has had a lasting negative impact.

For Kansas families, the Office said homeownership remains the principal means of building wealth and depriving investments in and access to mortgage lending services for communities of color have contributed to families of color persistently falling behind in the housing market compared to white families. It said the gap in homeownership rates between white and Black families is larger in 2021 than it was in 1960, before the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

“This initiative is important to our community, and we stand ready to work with community stakeholders and the Civil Rights Division to investigate allegations of redlining and, when appropriate, hold those accountable who participate in illegal redlining practices,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard.

The Office said the Initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices. It said the Initiative will build on the longstanding work by the Division that looks to make mortgage credit and homeownership accessible to all on the same terms, regardless of race or national origin and regardless of where they live. It said the initiative will do the following:

  • Use U.S. Attorneys’ Offices as force multipliers to ensure fair lending enforcement is informed by local expertise on housing markets and the credit needs of local communities of color.
  • Expand analyses of potential redlining to both depository and non-depository institutions.
  • Strengthen partnerships 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.

To report lending discrimination, call the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-833-591-0291 or submit an online report HERE.

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