On March 10 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an agreement with Alpine Bank & Trust resolving allegations the Northern Illinois-based lender discriminated against African American and Hispanic mortgage applicants. HOPE Fair Housing Center of Wheaton, Illinois filed a complaint with HUD claiming the lender’s business service areas excluded majority African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person because of race and national origin.
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. The complaint also alleged 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.
As part of the HUD-mediated settlement, Alpine Bank will:
- Establish a $1 million loan program to increase mortgage lending to residents in majority African-American and Hispanic areas in the Rockford metropolitan area;
- Pay $75,000 to HOPE;
- Offer targeted community outreach to minority areas, including seminars relating to financial literacy, homeownership, and credit counseling, and conduct a direct mailing campaign in majority African-American areas;
- Provide fair lending training for its mortgage lending staff, and;
- Research the possibility of opening a new automated services branch in a majority-minority neighborhood in the Rockford metropolitan area.
A copy of the agreement is available at https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=17FHCVALPINEBANKTRUST.PDF