On October 19, 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that its Combating Redlining Initiative has resulted in over $107 million in relief for communities adversely affected by lending discrimination by mortgage lenders. This comes on the same day DOJ announced its $9 million settlement with Ameris Bank, it’s most recent redlining case. Attorney General Merrick Garland remarked on the significance of this initiative’s success.
As background, in October of 2021, the DOJ introduced the “Combatting Redlining Initiative” which was meant to be the “most aggressive and coordinated enforcement effort to address redlining” and which will “seek to address fair lending concerns on a broader geographic scale than the [DOJ] has ever done before.” When the initiative was announced, the DOJ explained that it would target not only redlining by depository institutions but also target potential redlining by non-depository institutions. It was also made clear that the DOJ would coordinate with other financial regulatory agencies, including the CFPB and OCC, to ensure the identification and referral of fair lending violations. In the two years since the initiative was introduced, we have blogged about redlining cases brought against a number of depository and non-depository mortgage lenders. AG Garland noted that in those two years, the Department has secured 10 settlement agreements with mortgage lenders in Houston, Memphis, Philadelphia, Camden, Wilmington, Newark, Los Angeles, Columbus, Tulsa, Rhode Island, and now Jacksonville. He also stated that these settlements have led to meaningful resolutions and often involved lenders making significant financial investments and changes to their business practices to create access to credit and remedy their alleged discrimination.
In his remarks, AG Garland emphasized the efforts being taken by the DOJ and law enforcement to bring redlining claims. He explained that the recent settlements are the result of that dedication to collaboration. AG Garland noted that it is “clear, redlining is not just a relic of the past. Indeed, some of the neighborhoods that we allege Ameris redlined are some of the same neighborhoods that federal agencies originally redlined in the 1930s.” The Attorney General expressed his pride at the current efforts behind the Combatting Redlining Initiative and noted the DOJ will continue these efforts.