COMPLAINT ALLEGES TROUBLING LENDING AND BRANCH DISPARITIES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
San Francisco, Feb. 16, 2017 – (RealEstateRama) — The California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) was notified that its redlining complaint against CIT Group has been accepted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Monday this week. As a result, HUD will now begin its investigation.
“The mortgage lending disparities we identified at OneWest Bank (now owned by CIT Group) were deeply concerning. We will be watching closely to see what HUD finds with its more in-depth investigation,” comments Paulina Gonzalez, executive director at the California Reinvestment Coalition. “OneWest’s pattern of locating branches mostly in predominantly white communities raised red flags because it translates to less access to branches, less access to bank accounts, and less access to credit-including mortgages- in communities of color.”
CRC filed the redlining complaint with HUD in November 2016. The complaint alleges that OneWest Bank’s lending to borrowers in communities of color is low in absolute terms, low compared to its peer banks, and is lower than one would expect, given the size of the Asian, African American and Latino populations in Southern California. As part of the complaint, an analysis of the bank’s assessment areas found that OneWest has only 1 branch in an Asian majority census tract, no branches in African American majority census tracts, and 11 branches in Hispanic majority census tracts.
Sharon Kinlaw, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley, adds: “The data suggests OneWest Bank has made a practice out of steering clear of people of color in its assessment areas for a number of years. HUD made the right decision to accept this complaint and begin an investigation.”
Hyepin Im, founder and president of Korean Churches for Community Development, adds: “The Fair Housing Act is an important law protecting consumers and communities from redlining, and we appreciate that HUD is investigating this issue.”
Chancela Al Mansour, executive director of the Housing Rights Center, adds: “This complaint raises serious concerns about people of color being cut off from branches, mortgages, and other banking services that OneWest should be providing in the communities where it does business. We look forward to seeing what HUD finds after investigating more thoroughly.”
Additional Background: CIT Group announced plans to acquire OneWest Bank in October 2014. After a highly contested merger process, the acquisition was conditionally approved by bank regulators and was finalized in August 2015. Since then, CIT Group has disclosed problems at a OneWest reverse mortgage subsidiary, including material weaknesses and a HUD OIG investigation. Last month, New York’s attorney general announced also announced an investigation into this subsidiary. During an earnings call last month, the CEO of CIT Group, Ellen Alemany commented: “We integrated OneWest Bank and have been addressing the legacy issues that were, frankly, more challenging than originally expected.”
While OneWest’s foreclosure record is not part of the redlining complaint, analysis by CRC and Urban Strategies Council found that OneWest was nine times as likely to foreclose in communities of color as compared to extending mortgage loans in communities of color.