The City of Oakland California has a population of over 390,000 as of the 2010 U.S. Census. 28 percent of the population is African-American, yet the top 12 lenders in the nation helped African Americans borrow to purchase a home just four times in the entire year of 2013. Hispanic borrowers received only seven home loans, according to a recent study by the Greenlining Institute and Strategies Council.
Big Banks have been ridiculed for racist lending practices since the 2008 economic recession partially caused by the collapse of the housing market. Countrywide Financial, a subsidiary of Bank of America, overcharged 200,000 African-Americans and Latinos for mortgages at the height of the housing boom. Bank of America settled with the Justice Department in 2011 to pay $335 million dollars in claims against the company.
“In those circumstances, discrimination was profitable,” wrote Jordan Weismann for the Atlantic in 2011. “Greed fueled a system that created a pattern of racial bias.”
Post 2008 economic recession, the racial bias in mortgage lending has gone from overcharging to turning down mortgage applications of African-Americans. Racial disparities were discovered across the state of California, as African-Americans make up just 2 percent of mortgage lending originations while consisting of 6.5 percent of the state’s population.
“As the nation recovered from the recent economic crisis, the majority of Californians were locked out of the 2013 housing market—missing the most affordable time to buy a home,” wrote the study authors. “44 percent of California’s residents—the combined African American and Hispanic populations—obtained just 10.5 percent of total mortgage dollars lent by the top 12 lenders statewide. Sadly, these disparities were more pronounced in three cities where African Americans and Hispanics averaged 56 percent of the population.”
Racism in mortgage lending isn’t a phenomenon unique to California, but rampant across the United States.
In September 2015, Evans Bank settled a $825,000 lawsuit with New York State for racist lending practices. JP Morgan was sued by the City of Miami for discriminatory practices in 2014, along with Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. PNC Bank was asked by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to pay $35 million in restitution for the discriminatory practices between 2002 and 2008 of a bank they bought, National City Bank.
In the City of Denver, the National Fair Housing Alliance exposed racist practices by U.S. Bank in 2014. These are just a few examples of the banks who were caught conducting discriminatory practices as these trends remain persistent among the largest and smallest banks in the country, while minority communities continue to suffer from being denied the right to purchases a home, or the exorbitant extra fees they are charged because of their race.