Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Associated with Discrimination

When I first moved to the Twin Cities in 1987, I opened a checking account at Riverside Bank, a locally owned institution a few blocks from the University of Minnesota's West Bank campus. Over time, I found out that it was considered a true community lender, responsible for funding many small businesses. When I bought my first house in the early 1990s, I connected with a mortgage lender through Riverside, though the bank wan't doing mortgages in-house at that time.

A decade or more ago, Riverside was bought by Wisconsin-based Associated Bank. I stuck with them for a while, but finally decided they weren't the same and switched to another community bank instead, and later to a credit union.

Well, I guess there was more to my discomfort with Associated than just the fact that they were bought by out-of-towners: A few weeks ago, they settled a suit brought by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The bank was charged with discriminating against black and Latino home-buyers between 2008 and 2011, and for that they will pay $200 million, promise to stop discriminating, and do additional work to encourage black and Latino home buyers.

According to the Star Tribune story linked above,

HUD’s analysis of Associated Bank’s mortgage lending indicated that, compared to other mortgage lenders, it made few loans in minority neighborhoods while approving mortgages in nearby, predominantly white neighborhoods.

In a statement, officials called it “the largest settlement of this kind HUD has ever reached.”

Keenan Raverty, a vice president at Bell Mortgage and two-time president of the Minnesota Mortgage Association (MMA), called the settlement “staggering,” and certainly the largest he’s seen in his 23-year career.

“HUD doesn’t reach settlements like this often,” he said. “The sheer dollars involved will bring attention to this issue.”
But the dollar amount hasn't called much attention to the settlement that I've noticed, other than this one story. I did notice that Associated is suddenly advertising about how great they are, though. Huh.

Larry Wilmore took a stab at changing that lack of attention a few days ago on The Nightly Show. This short video is worth the watch, and it includes this image which reminds me a bit of the ads Associated is running currently:

1 comment:

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I'd missed this story...this makes it memorable!