How Far Have We Come and How Far Have We to Go?
The nature of mortgage lending discrimination has evolved since the passage of the Fair Housing Act (“FHAct”) in 1968 and its significant amendments in 1988. Lending discrimination in the past took the dominant form of the denial of credit to individuals based on their race or ethnicity or the race / ethnicity of the community within which one lives (i.e., redlining). Now lending discrimination seems less a problem of the denial of credit than it is one of the terms and conditions under which loans are made.
Commenters and scholars suggest that early enforcement of the FHAct and Equal Credit Opportunity Act was neither vigorous nor especially effective. However post-1988, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) as well as the US Department of Justice (“Justice”) ramped-up and brought cases that defined and changed the civil rights landscape around fair lending. Those same commenters and scholars, and HUD’s and Justice’s own enforcement numbers, show that little has been done since 2001. Congress also passed significant legislation in the 1980s, not civil rights in nature, which had the consequences of both facilitating growth of the subprime lending market and deregulating the conditions under which loans were made.