Reveal: State attorneys general probe lending disparities

Reveal, March 13, 2018: State attorneys general probe lending disparities

As the Trump administration withdraws from enforcing consumer protection and fair lending law, a group of state attorneys general are stepping into the breach.

On Feb. 28, the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney told a gathering of states attorneys general that his office would no longer “push the envelope” in bringing consumer protection suits. This came on the heels of Mulvaney stripping the agency’s Office of Fair Lending of its enforcement responsibilities.

But behind the scenes, some attorneys general were already striking out on their own. At least three states and the District of Columbia have begun to probe lending disparities in their areas, armed with an analysis of millions of mortgage records by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The Reveal analysis found 61 metros across the country where people of color were far more likely than whites to be denied a conventional home purchase loan, even after taking into account how much money an applicant made, the size of the loan they were trying to get and the neighborhood where they wanted to buy.

In interviews, the attorneys general said they would press forward regardless of what happens in the White House or on Capitol Hill, where the Senate is set to vote this week on a bill that would roll back a major anti-discrimination measure enacted after the housing bust.

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