California lenders reach settlement with HUD over unfair lending charge

American Financial Network to pay Hispanic man $5,000

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday a group of California mortgage lenders resolved allegations that they discriminated against a Hispanic man due to his national origin.

The complaint was made against American Financial Network, Benchmark Communities, Brigantino Enterprise and an employee of Benchmark Communities. These lenders allegedly refused to prequalify a man to buy a home in Hollister, California, about 50 miles south of San Jose, because he is Hispanic.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales or home lending transactions based on a person’s national origin, race, color, religion, sex, familial status or disability.

“Where a person comes from should not impact their ability to purchase a home,” said Bryan Greene, HUD general deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “Today’s action reflects our nation’s promise of fair housing and equal access to credit for every qualified individual, regardless of their national origin.”

HUD first saw the case after the applicant filed a fair housing complaint saying he was unfairly denied the opportunity to prequalify for a mortgage loan because he is Hispanic.

As a result of the agreement, American Financial Network will pay the man $5,000 and give annual fair housing training to current and new employees as they are hired, while Benchmark Communities will provide fair housing training for its employees who interact with potential homebuyers.

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