Combatting Redlining Initiative - Ameris Bank
Department Reaches $9 Million Agreement with Ameris Bank To Resolve Lending Discrimination Claims
On October 19, 2023, U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg, along with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, announced a $9 million agreement with Ameris Bank to resolve allegations that Ameris engaged in a pattern or practice of redlining predominately Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Florida.
Redlining is an illegal practice in which lenders avoid providing credit services to individuals living in or seeking to live in, communities of color because of the race, color, or national origin of the residents in those communities.
The resolution with Ameris Bank was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, along with the Department’s complaint, and is subject to court approval. 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. Although Ameris operates 18 branches in Jacksonville, Ameris has never operated a branch in a majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhood in the city.
The neighborhoods that the Department alleges Ameris redlined in Jacksonville are some of the same neighborhoods that were first redlined by Home Ownership Loan Corporation maps in the 1930s.
"“For far too long, redlining has negatively impacted communities of color across our country,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “TThis agreement with Ameris Bank represents the first redlining case brought by the Department of Justice in the state of Florida and signals a step forward for Black and Hispanic communities in Jacksonville that were previously denied access to economic resources for generations. This settlement means that Ameris Bank will provide financial remedies to Jacksonville’s underserved communities, and it demonstrates our commitment to guaranteeing equal access to housing and credit resources for all Americans.”
Under the proposed consent order, which is subject to court approval, Ameris Bank will invest $9 million to increase credit opportunities for communities of color in Jacksonville. Specifically, Ameris will:
Invest $7.5 million in a loan subsidy fund that will be made available to residents of majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods and those seeking credit in those communities.
Invest $900,000 for advertising and outreach targeted toward the residents of these neighborhoods.
Invest $600,000 to develop community partnerships to provide services that increase access to residential mortgage credit.
Open a new branch in a majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhood in Jacksonville.
Ensure that at least three mortgage loan officers are dedicated to serving majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
Retain a consultant to assess the bank’s compliance management system as it pertains to redlining risk.
Employ a full-time Director of Community Lending who will oversee the continued development of lending in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Jacksonville.
Ameris is working cooperatively with the Department to address the credit needs of residents in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Jacksonville. Beyond the agreement, Ameris has committed to expanding its lending services across its markets to underserved communities.