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CUOMO SAYS TEXAS LENDER WILL TARGET $42.5 MILLION IN MORTGAGE LOANS TO MINORITIES AND LOW- AND MODERATE-INCOME FAMILIES
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced that SFM Mortgage Corporation has agreed to target $42.5 million in home mortgage loans to minorities and low- and moderate-income families in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas over the next three years to settle accusations of lending discrimination.
HUD estimates that over 760 minority and low- and moderate-income families will receive mortgage loans and become homeowners as a result of the agreement.
The agreement was prompted by HUD-funded tests of the lender that were conducted by whites and minorities posing as mortgage loan applicants. One test showed that an African American tester was told that he would qualify for a loan of $100,000 while a white tester was told he would qualify for a loan of $158,000 - even though the black tester told the lender he had a slightly higher income, a higher downpayment, greater savings and less debt than the white tester.
"Under this agreement, SFM Mortgage Corporation will help open the door to homeownership to more hard-working families," Cuomo said. "People locked out of homeownership for far too long will benefit, neighborhoods will benefit and SFM will benefit as well by doing more business. SFM has acted responsibly and as a good corporate citizen."
In a statement signed as part of the agreement, SFM President Randie Wolzen said: "SFM Mortgage recognizes that the complaint which was filed against it based on testing results showed treatment by SFM employees towards African Americans and Hispanics which did not meet the standards that SFM sets for itself - actions which may have violated the nation's fair housing laws…. That is why we today are announcing an agreement which changes how we do business…. We have committed through this settlement to improve homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income families and African American and Hispanic families. It reflects SFM's commitment to serving those families, and in working particularly with African Americans and Hispanics who want to own their own homes."
The lender also agreed to provide loan officers by appointment in neighborhoods of Fort Worth that are predominantly African American and Hispanic.
The settlement with SFM -- based in Bedford, TX -- resulted from a discrimination complaint filed by the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission, which receives HUD funding.
The Fort Worth Human Relations Commission also filed complaints that resulted in two much larger lending discrimination settlements announced recently by Cuomo:
HUD began a stepped-up campaign to enforce the Fair Housing Act in September at President Clinton's direction, as part of the President's One America Initiative.
This past fiscal year, as a result of HUD's campaign, the Department obtained $9.6 million in relief for individuals in housing discrimination settlements - compared with $4.4 million the year before.
President Clinton's proposed 1999 federal budget seeks $22 million in increased funding for HUD to intensify the fight against housing discrimination. The 73 percent increase for HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity would boost spending by the office to $52 million. If approved by Congress, it would be the largest single budget increase in civil rights law enforcement in two decades.
The Fair Housing Act covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation. Fair housing investigations are conducted by HUD investigators, state and city agencies working with HUD, and private fair housing groups that receive HUD funds.
People who believe they have been harmed by housing discrimination can file complaints with HUD by calling 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint with HUD directly over the Internet.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009