On Thursday, June 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a civil rights group, determining that lending, zoning, sales, or rental practices would be considered discrimination if proven to have a disparate impact on racial minorities, whether that impact was intentional or not.
The 5-4 decision was the result of a case in which a Texas nonprofit, Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., sued the Texas Department of Housing for disproportionately awarding low-income housing tax credits to developers with properties in poor, minority dominated neighborhoods. The Inclusive Communities Project is an organization that seeks to place low-income tenants in wealthier Texas suburbs.
The case hinged on whether the Fair Housing Act allows for disparate impact claims. In a disparate impact claim, the plaintiff must only show evidence of the discriminatory effect of a practice, regardless of whether discriminatory intent was present. The Obama Administration issued new Housing and Urban Development Department rules in 2013 stating that the Fair Housing Act’s definition of discrimination covers disparate-impact situations.
This decision is expected to have wide-reaching effects on the lending, insurance, and other industries. More information about the Fair Housing Act can be found here. To read the full Supreme Court decision, click here.
Earlier in 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a report on its plan, purpose, and proposed action on how to address issues within the subject of Fair Lending.
But one might first ask the question: “What is Fair Lending?” Fair Lending falls under the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Under both Acts, it is unlawful for a lender to discriminate on a prohibited basis in a residential real estate-related transaction.
The CFPB’s report addresses how they would deal with certain issues regarding Fair Lending. The Director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, makes this statement in the beginning of the report:
“At the Consumer Bureau, we are fierce advocates for a consumer financial marketplace that allows all Americans to pursue a path to greater opportunity. To that end, we are working to remove the unnecessary obstacles too many Americans face in the consumer financial marketplace.”
In the report, the CFPB touches on:
NFM Lending strongly supports the CFPB’s efforts and takes this matter very seriously. If you would like to learn more about Fair Lending or to read the CFPB report in its entirety, it can be located here.
If you are looking to purchase or refinance a home, click here to contact one of our Licensed Mortgage Loan Originators to learn what mortgage loan is right for you. NFM Lending is an Equal Housing Lender.