United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg Delivers Remarks on Significant Combating Redlining Initiative Action in Jacksonville
Thank you, Attorney General Garland and Assistant Attorney General Clarke for your remarks, as well as for being here today to announce the resolution with Ameris Bank, which is a significant milestone in the Justice Department’s Redlining Initiative. Attorney General Garland, your initiative represents the Department’s most effective and coordinated effort to address redlining and has resulted in the Department, in partnership with my office, bringing the first redlining case in the history of the state of Florida.
I would also like to thank our partners in the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Deputy Chief Lucy Carlson and Trial Attorney Jenna Raden. Your work, along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Yohance Pettis and Michael Kenneth from my office, has resulted in an impactful resolution that is going to help majority-Black and Hispanic communities in Jacksonville for years to come.
As Assistant Attorney General Clarke announced, the proposed consent order filed today secures a $9 million dollar settlement with Ameris Bank. I want to take a few minutes to explain what this will mean for majority-Black and Hispanic communities in Jacksonville, once the settlement is approved by the Court.
As a result of this settlement, Ameris Bank will invest $7,500,000 in a loan subsidy fund. This fund will subsidize home mortgage loans, home improvement loans, and home refinance loans in majority-Black and Hispanic communities in Jacksonville. No more than 25 percent of the loan subsidy fund may be used for home refinance loans. Ameris will offer qualified applicants numerous forms of assistance, including: offering an interest rate below the prevailing market rate; direct down payment assistance; direct closing cost assistance; and payment of the initial mortgage insurance premium, where applicable.
In addition to the loan subsidy, Ameris Bank will spend at least $600,000 over the term of the consent order, which is a five-year term, on partnerships with one or more community-based organizations to provide the residents of majority-Black and Hispanic communities in Jacksonville with services related to credit, financial education, homeownership, and foreclosure prevention.
Additionally, Ameris Bank will devote at least $900,000 over the term of the consent order on advertising, outreach, and consumer financial education targeted to residents of majority-Black and Hispanic communities in Jacksonville. Ameris Bank will also provide the community with outreach programs to inform real estate brokers, real estate agents, and developers of Ameris’ products and services. Ameris Bank will also develop a consumer financial education program to provide training and counseling services about consumer finance and credit establishment to individuals in majority-Black and Hispanic communities in Jacksonville.
Finally, and importantly, subject to regulatory approval, Ameris Bank will open or acquire one new full-service branch located in a majority-Black and Hispanic census track located north of the St. John’s River in Jacksonville.
As you can see from some of the terms of this settlement, the resolution reached is designed to have a lasting impact on communities of color in Jacksonville. The allegations brought in this case are significant and the message is clear: modern-day redlining will not be tolerated in the Middle District of Florida. I want to acknowledge Ameris Bank for taking these steps to serve the community in Jacksonville. My office will work with them to ensure that the terms of the consent order are met to the fullest and that this relief reaches the communities of color here in Jacksonville.
Thank you and I will turn it back over to the Attorney General.