Investigation: Whites May Get Better Loan Terms in County

A nonprofit's initial look into housing discrimination also suggests discrimination on the basis of gender, familial status and disability status related to women on pregnancy leave

An investigation by a North Bay nonprofit found evidence of alleged mortgage lending discrimination practiced by several lending institutions in Marin, Sonoma and Solano counties.

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the initial investigation by Fair Housing of Marin showed that several lending institutions offered better loan terms or more favorable treatment to whites in comparison to Hispanic and black people.

The nonprofit also found evidence of discrimination on the basis of gender, familial status and disability status related to women on pregnancy leave. In one instance, a loan agent told a woman that she would not qualify for a loan while she was on paid maternity leave, according to the nonprofit.

Fair Housing of Marin trained testers of different races and nationalities during the investigation to gather information from several banks and mortgage lenders.

The group plans to file administrative complaints with HUD against several of the mortgage lending institutions, but did not identify the institutions because its investigation is ongoing.

The investigation found that white testers were given preferential treatment.

Detailed written estimates of loan terms and substantive information were provided for white testers but not for black or Latino testers, according to Fair Housing of Marin. White testers were also more likely to be granted in-person meetings and given guidance during the loan application process than other black or Latino testers.

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