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The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against KleinBank alleging that the bank engaged in unlawful “redlining” of majority-minority neighborhoods in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. “Redlining” is the discriminatory practice by banks or other financial institutions of denying or avoiding providing credit services to consumers because of the racial or ethnic demographics of the neighborhood in which the consumer lives.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, alleges that KleinBank violated the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibit financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race and color in their mortgage lending practices. The complaint alleges that from 2010 to at least 2015, KleinBank structured its residential mortgage lending business in such a way as to avoid serving the credit needs of neighborhoods where a majority of residents are racial and ethnic minorities.
The bank’s alleged redlining practices include: excluding majority-minority neighborhoods from the area it serves; locating branch offices and mortgage loan officers in majority-white neighborhoods, but not in majority-minority neighborhoods; and targeting marketing and advertising exclusively toward residents of majority-white neighborhoods. From 2010 to 2015, comparable lenders generated applications in majority-minority neighborhoods at over five times the rate of KleinBank and made loans in majority-minority neighborhoods at over four times the rate of KleinBank.
“Redlining produces an unequal and unlevel playing field for borrowers in minority neighborhoods,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “Cases like this one demonstrate the Justice Department’s strong commitment to hold banks accountable for continuing and perpetuating historic trends of inequality in residential mortgage lending.”
The Justice Department’s enforcement of fair lending laws is conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. Since 2010, the division has provided over $1.6 billion in monetary relief for individual borrowers and impacted communities through its enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, ECOA and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The Attorney General’s annual reports to Congress on ECOA enforcement highlight the department’s accomplishments in fair lending and are available at www.justice.gov/crt/publications/.
The Civil Rights Division is a member of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit www.StopFraud.gov.
Additional information about fair lending enforcement by the Justice Department can be found on the department’s website at www.justice.gov/fairhousing.