On April 22, 2016, the Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) announced that it had settled a fair housing complaint it had brought against North Carolina-based The Fidelity Bank. The complaint, which had been filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), had alleged that African American prospective borrowers were treated less favorably than whites, despite having higher income and other qualifications.
As a result of the settlement, Fidelity Bank has committed to make at least $500,000 in investments and community development loans in each of the next two years in predominantly minority census tracts where at least 40 percent of these loans will specifically promote affordable housing. In addition, the bank will provide fair lending training to staff, including loan originators and employees engaged in loan processing and underwriting, and will display fair housing and non-discrimination policies in English and Spanish at its Oberlin Road branch in Raleigh.
In a press release issued announcing the settlement, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez stated:
Whether intentional or not, stark disparities exist in lending patterns and access to credit along racial and ethnic lines. HUD remains committed to not only enforcing the law, but also facilitating productive relationships between lenders and advocacy groups that help make lenders more aware of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act.
Both the federal Fair Housing Act and North Carolina’s State Fair Housing Act prohibit discrimination in housing transactions, including the making of mortgage loans, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex/gender, familial status, and disability.