The bill progressive Democrats have deemed the "Bank Lobbyist Act," which faces a second procedural vote Monday afternoon, would make it easier for banks to hide racial discrimination in mortgage lending. The legislation would prevent the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from collecting data to track when and where people of color are being charged for home loans, steered toward predatory products, or being denied mortgages.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) co-wrote in an op-ed: "Without this data, state attorneys general, fair housing advocates, and others would be back to where we stood in the aftermath of the 2008 crash: we could not connect racial, ethnic, gender and age discrimination to mortgages made in our communities and across the country."
The rewrite of the bill that will get a cloture vote on Monday has a "fig leaf" of a fix, David Dayen writes, still allowing "banks and credit unions making fewer than 500 mortgage loans a year [to] be exempt from the new data requirements." The changes say they would have to comply if they get a low rating in two successive Community Reinvestment Act examinations.
But as Dayen points out, at most "Community Reinvestment Act exams occur once every three years. So exempt banks wouldn’t have to sweat anything until 2021 at the earliest. Plus, since the CRA was enacted in 1977, 97 percent of all banks have received a passing grade—yet lending discrimination still exists."
It very much still exists.
An alarming new study by the Center for Investigative Reporting’s online publication Reveal found that African-Americans and Latinos were far more likely to be denied conventional mortgages than whites even when income, loan size and other factors were taken into account. The study examined 31 million mortgage records and found disturbing evidence in 61 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Antonio. African-Americans faced their worst obstacles in the South—Mobile, Ala.; Greenville, N.C.; and Gainesville, Fla.—and Latinos in Iowa City.
Black applicants were disproportionately turned away, as compared to whites, in 48 metropolitan areas, Latinos in 25, Asian-Americans in nine and Native Americans in three areas. In Washington, D.C., the study found that all four groups were far more likely to be denied home loans than were whites.