Discriminating Lenders, or Just Discrimination? May 20, 2007Posted by C.A.R.D in African Americans, African-American, American Indians, Black, Blacks, Card, civil rights law, ethnic group discrimination, Fair Housing Act, fair-housing complaints, housing discrimination, housing racism, Indian reservations, Lawsuit, lender discrimination, mortgage discrimination, mortgage loans, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Native Americans, NovaStar Financial, NovaStar Financial discrimination, people with disabilities, racism discrimination, Richard Johnson, The National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
When mortgage lenders refuse to write loans on central-city rowhouses, does that violate federal fair-housing rules?
What about refusing to write mortgages on houses in a community dominated by an ethnic group? Or not offering mortgage loans for houses that may be used in part to accommodate disabled adults?
Just how much protection do fair-lending and other civil rights laws provide to mortgage applicants who are rejected not because of their credit scores or financial capacities but possibly because of the location, type or potential use of their homes?
A major consumer group is mounting a campaign aimed at nailing down the answers. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition filed lawsuit May 9 against NovaStar Mortgage, a subsidiary of publicly traded NovaStar Financial, based in Kansas City, Mo. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the District, charges that NovaStar has repeatedly violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to offer mortgages on rowhouses in downtown Baltimore, on homes on Indian reservations anywhere in the country, and on houses that may be used in part to shelter and care for disabled adults.
Such bans have “no business justification,” according to the suit, and illegally discriminate against African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and people with disabilities.
The woman called a real estate agent looking to rent an apartment, and indicated that she uses a wheelchair. Despite promising to call her back about prospects, the agent never did.
Another person without a disability called the same agent and was shown an apartment.
A man who is blind called an agent about renting a unit in a three-family, owner-occupied building. The agent asked if the man had pets, and he acknowledged using a guide dog. The agent said the owner lived below the available apartment, and the guide dog “would drive her crazy.” The man did not get the apartment.