COLUMBUS, Ohio: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio announced its partnership with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division as it launches the department’s new Combatting Redlining Initiative.
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 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.
“Redlining is not only harmful in our communities of color, but it is also illegal,” said Acting United States Attorney Vipal J. Patel. “I want to assure those living in the Southern District of Ohio that we will investigate and hold accountable those who are redlining our communities.”
Redlining, a practice institutionalized by the federal government during the New Deal era and implemented then and now by private lenders, has had a lasting negative impact. For American families, homeownership remains the principal means of building wealth, and the deprivation of investment in and access to mortgage lending services for communities of color have contributed to families of color persistently lagging behind in homeownership rates and net worth compared to white families. 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.
This Initiative, which will be led by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, will build on the longstanding work by the Division that 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:
Use 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’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 make the majority of mortgages in this country.
Strengthen our partnership with financial regulatory agencies such as 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.
Individuals may report lending discrimination by calling the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-833-591-0291, or submitting a report online.