PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that the Department of Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Attorneys General of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware announced today agreements to resolve allegations that Trident Mortgage Company (Trident), which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., engaged in a pattern or practice of lending discrimination by “redlining” in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, including neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington. This resolution represents the Justice Department’s first redlining settlement against a mortgage company and is the second-largest redlining settlement in Justice Department history.
“Redlining” is an illegal practice in which lenders avoid providing credit services to individuals living in certain communities or postal zip codes because of the race, color, or national origin of persons residing there. Under a proposed federal consent order, which is subject to court approval and was filed in conjunction with a complaint today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Trident has agreed to invest over $20 million to increase credit opportunities in neighborhoods of color in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Trident will also pay a civil money penalty of $4 million.
The complaint filed in federal court alleges that: (1) Trident violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibit financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin in their mortgage lending services; (2) Trident further violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act, which prohibits offering or providing to a consumer any financial product or service not in conformity with federal consumer financial law; (3) from at least 2015 to 2019, Trident failed to provide mortgage lending services to neighborhoods of color in the Philadelphia metropolitan area; (4) Trident concentrated its offices in majority-white neighborhoods; (5) Trident failed to direct its loan officers to serve—and its loan officers did not serve—the credit needs of neighborhoods of color; (6) Trident’s outreach and marketing avoided those neighborhoods; and (7) Trident’s loan officers and other employees sent and received work e-mails containing racial slurs and messages referring to communities of color as “ghetto.”
The $20 million that Trident agrees, under the proposed consent order, to invest to increase credit opportunities for residents of neighborhoods of color in the Philadelphia metropolitan area includes at least: $18.4 million in a loan subsidy fund; $750,000 for development of community partnerships to provide services that increase access to residential mortgage credit; $875,000 for advertising and outreach; and $375,000 for consumer financial education.
Because Trident is no longer lending, it will contract with another lender to provide loan subsidies and services to the “redlined” communities and will ensure that the lender: maintains at least four mortgage loan officers dedicated to serving neighborhoods of color in and around Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington; maintains at least four office locations in those neighborhoods; and employs a full-time manager of community lending who will oversee the continued development of lending in neighborhoods of color in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
Separately, Trident has also entered into agreements with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the States of New Jersey and Delaware. Under those agreements, which resolve allegations against both Trident and Fox & Roach LP (a real estate affiliate of Trident): Trident will reimburse Pennsylvania and New Jersey for costs that they incurred in conducting their investigations; and Fox & Roach will invest $150,000 in marketing to communities of color in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
“For far too many years, Philadelphia’s Black, Latino, and other communities of color have lacked equal access to lending and legal deed ownership. These historically redlined areas of Philadelphia continue to experience disproportionate amounts of poverty, poor health outcomes, limited educational attainment, unemployment, and violent crime,” U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero said. “I am pleased that my office could support the Attorney General’s Combatting Redlining Initiative through this resolution, and I look forward to our continued partnership with the Civil Rights Division.”
“Last fall, I announced the Department’s Combatting Redlining Initiative and promised that we would mobilize resources to make fair access to credit a reality in underserved neighborhoods across our country,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “As demonstrated by today’s historic announcement, we are increasing our coordination with federal financial regulatory agencies and state Attorneys General to combat the modern-day redlining that has unlawfully plagued communities of color.”
“This settlement is a stark reminder that redlining is not a problem from a bygone era. Trident’s unlawful redlining activity denied communities of color equal access to residential mortgages, stripped them of the opportunity to build wealth and devalued properties in their neighborhoods,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This settlement ensures that significant lending resources will be infused into neighborhoods of color in and around Philadelphia that have historically experienced racial discrimination. Along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, we are sending a powerful message to lenders that they will be held accountable when they run afoul of our fair lending laws.”
“Trident illegally redlined neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area, excluding qualified families seeking to own a home,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “With housing costs so high, it is critical that illegal discrimination does not put homeownership even further out of reach.”
This settlement is part of the U.S. Attorney General’s Combatting Redlining Initiative, announced in October 2021 and aimed at coordinating agencies’ enforcement efforts to address this persistent form of discrimination against communities of color. The Initiative is expanding the Justice Department’s reach by strengthening partnerships with U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country, with regulatory partners like CFPB, and with partners in States’ attorney general offices.
The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the CFPB jointly investigated the matter, with support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The investigation was coordinated closely with the attorneys general of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the States of New Jersey and Delaware.
A copy of the complaint, as well as additional information about the Justice Department’s fair lending enforcement, can be found at www.justice.gov/fairhousing. Individuals may report lending discrimination by calling the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-833-591-0291, or submitting a report online.
Citizens in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania who believe that they may have been victims of lending discrimination may also contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania at 215-861-8200 or 615 Chestnut Street, Suite 1250, Philadelphia, PA 19106, ATTN: Civil Division Chief Gregory David.