United States v. Ameris Bank (M.D. Fla.)
On November 7, 2023, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Ameris Bank (M.D. Fla.). The complaint, which was filed on October 19, 2023, alleged that Ameris Bank violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by engaging in unlawful redlining in the bank’s Jacksonville, Florida service area. The Department’s complaint alleges that, from 2016 through 2021, Ameris Bank avoided providing mortgage services to majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Jacksonville and discouraged people seeking credit in those communities from obtaining home loans. Ameris’ home mortgage lending was focused disproportionately on white areas of Jacksonville while other lenders generated applications in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods at three times the rate of Ameris. Additionally, although Ameris operates 18 branches in Jacksonville, Ameris has never operated a branch in a majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhood in the city. The consent order requires Ameris to invest at least $7.5 million in a loan subsidy fund to increase access to home mortgage, home improvement, and home refinance for residents of majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Jacksonville. Additionally, in those same neighborhoods, Ameris will spend $900,000 for advertising, outreach, and consumer financial education; spend $600,000 to develop community partnerships to provide services that increase access to residential mortgage credit; open a new branch; ensure at least three mortgage loan officers are dedicated to serving those communities; and employ a Director of Community Lending who will oversee the continued development of lending in communities of color in Jacksonville. Ameris will also retain a consultant to assess the bank’s compliance management system as it pertains to redlining risk across all of its markets.