Houston Chronicle: NAACP sues Capital One Bank, alleging discrimination in banking services

Houston Chronicle, March 1, 2018: NAACP sues Capital One Bank, alleging discrimination in banking services

Two Houston civil rights groups have sued the financial services company Capital One, alleging that it has discriminated against blacks and Latinos by closing more than half its banking offices in minority neighborhoods while adding them in areas that are predominantly white.

The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Houston by the local chapters of the NAACP and LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, alleges that Capital One violated federal fair housing and credit laws, relegating minority customers to “debit-card-bankers-only” who can only deposit and withdraw funds in limited service branches while reserving full service banking offerings, including mortgages and other lending, for the bank’s white customers.

The lawsuit comes as federal regulators focus on stamping out efforts of some banks to carve up communities into desirable and undesirable neighborhoods, a practice known as redlining that has traditionally revolved around race. Often the lack of banking services means that poor and minorities are forced to pay fees to check cashing operations or exorbitant interest rates to payday and title lenders.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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