The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Friday that Alpine Bank & Trust is being sanctioned over fair lending violations.
Alpine Bank & Trust, an Illinois-based lender, faced charges that it discriminated against African-American and Hispanic mortgage applicants.
The charges stemmed from a complaint filed by the HOPE Fair Housing Center of Wheaton, Illinois, which filed a complaint with HUD claiming that the lender’s business service areas excluded majority African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods.
According to HUD, HOPE Fair Housing Center claimed that the bank’s “lack of a presence” in minority neighborhoods in the Rockford area made financial products less available to potential applicants based on their race and national origin.
HOPE Fair Housing Center’s complaint also claimed that only one of Alpine’s 14 branch locations is located in a Census tract that is more than 10% African-American.
Additionally, HOPE’s complaint accused the lender of providing white applicants with “better information, and offered them more favorable terms and conditions than African-American and Hispanic applicants.”
Alpine Bank & Trust denied all of the allegations made against it and admitted to no wrongdoing, but still signed a settlement agreement mediated by HUD.
The settlement agreement stipulates that Alpine Bank will:
- Establish a $1 million loan program to increase mortgage lending to residents in majority African-American and Hispanic areas in the Rockford metropolitan area
- Pay $75,000 to HOPE
- Offer targeted community outreach to minority areas, including seminars relating to financial literacy, homeownership, and credit counseling, and conduct a direct mailing campaign in majority African-American areas
- Provide fair lending training for its mortgage lending staff
- Research the possibility of opening a new automated services branch in a majority-minority neighborhood in the Rockford metropolitan area