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Attorney General Ends Bank’s Discriminatory Mortgage Practices

Getting a mortgage can be tough for a myriad of reasons. First, it’s because you need to have a FICO of at least 500 to even be eligible for an FHA mortgage, never mind actually getting it. Then, there are all those complicated forms to deal with. Next, it’s because of technical errors. About 46% of Internet users have difficulty interacting with websites regularly, which means that nearly half of those who go online to find a mortgage get nothing but problems for their efforts.

But because of your race or neighborhood?

Unfortunately, the practice of redlining — writing mortgages based not on borrowers’ individual qualifications, but on ignorant attitudes about a whole race or class of people — is still a problem today. According to an investigation. by the Attorney General, Five Star Bank has been excluding Rochester’s predominantly minority neighborhoods from its lending area; has been deeming loans secured by property outside of the bank’s lending area to be “undesirable”; and has been imposing a minimum mortgage amount requirement that effectively put its mortgage products out of the reach of people who live in minority neighborhoods

Luckily, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is now requiring Five Star Bank to end its discriminatory mortgage practices.

“All New Yorkers, regardless of the color of their skin or the racial composition of their neighborhood, must be afforded an equal opportunity to obtain credit,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “It’s truly disheartening that in 2015, we are still confronting the systematic racial discrimination that has persisted throughout our nation’s history.”

According to the Attorney General’s agreement with Five Star, the bank will open two new branch offices in Rochester neighborhoods that have a minority population of at least 30%. The bank will also create a Special Financing Program. that will provide residents of majority-minority neighborhoods with $500,000 in discounts or subsidies on loans.

Attorney General Schneiderman also noted that his “office will continue to fight for equal justice under law for all New Yorkers and to ensure that lenders treat people fairly in the marketplace.”