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  WINDY CITY TIMES

HUD, Bank of America settle LGBT discrimination claim
BOA agrees to pay $7,500, correct practices for alleged discrimination against lesbian couple
2013-01-02

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From a News Release

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced an agreement with Bank of America (BOA) to settle a claim that the mortgage lender refused to provide financing to a lesbian couple. The agreement is the first enforcement action taken against a lender involving HUD's recent rule ensuring that the Department's core housing programs be open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

HUD's rule, Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity prohibits lenders from basing eligibility determinations for mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. HUD's Equal Access rule applies to all housing programs administered by the Department.

"This agreement demonstrates that HUD will vigorously enforce its Equal Access rule and pursue lenders that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status," said Helen Kanovsky, HUD's General Counsel. "By the same token, BOA should be commended for stepping up and taking immediate corrective action after HUD notified BOA of the violation."

John Trasviña, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, added, "The HUD Equal Access Rule means just what it says: one's sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status is not a legitimate basis on which to deny a mortgage. Members of the housing industry should take note of this settlement agreement. HUD will enforce its regulations to make sure its programs are truly open to all qualified families."

HUD claimed BOA denied a loan to a Florida couple seeking to obtain an FHA-insured mortgage because of their sexual orientation and marital status. Because one partner was not employed, the applicant enlisted her partner's mother as a co-applicant on the loan. The couple worked with BOA for several weeks to provide all of the necessary loan application documents and the couple was assured by BOA that they were likely to receive a mortgage. One business day prior to closing, BOA denied the mortgage because it did not consider the loan applicant and the co-applicant directly related because the applicant and her partner were not married. As a result of BOA's actions, the couple was not able to close on the loan.

Under the terms of the agreement, BOA agrees to pay HUD $7,500 and to notify its residential mortgage loan originators, processors and underwriters of its Settlement Agreement with HUD. In addition, BOA will remind its employees that they are prohibited from discriminating against FHA-loan applicants on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. BOA will also update its fair lending training program to include information on HUD's rule.

If you believe you have experienced housing discrimination, you should contact HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for help at (800) 669-9777. You may also file a housing discrimination complaint online. Additionally you should contact your local HUD office for assistance regarding alleged violations of HUD programs regulations.

Bethany Woolman

Communications Associate

NCLR

Office: 415.392.6257 x305

BWoolman@NCLRights.org

From a news release, Jan. 2, 2013

Statement by NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert, Esq.

(Washington D.C., January 2, 2013)—Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a settlement agreement in a claim it brought against Bank of America for discriminating against a lesbian couple applying for a federally insured mortgage loan. This settlement marks HUD's first enforcement action taken under its recently enacted LGBT Equal Access Rule.

The rule, which represents one of the most significant federal nondiscrimination efforts ever taken on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, went into effect on March 5, 2012. It prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status in public housing and HUD's core housing programs, including eligibility determinations for mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). NCLR worked closely with HUD in the development of this rule, and has continued to partner with HUD on implementation of and education about the rule.

HUD brought the claim alleging that Bank of America's denial of an FHA-insured mortgage loan from an otherwise eligible Florida lesbian couple because they were not married constituted discrimination based on sexual orientation and marital status. The agreement requires Bank of America to pay a fine of $7,500 and to notify its residential mortgage loan originators, processors and underwriters of the settlement agreement. Moreover, it requires Bank of America to take steps to re-train its employees that the Equal Access Rule prohibits discrimination against applicants based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.

Statement by NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert, Esq.:

"Today's announcement is a turning point for the LGBT community in its fight for equal access to fair and affordable housing. This settlement agreement shows how serious HUD is about working to ensure all people and their families can access public housing and crucial housing programs.

We congratulate Assistant Secretary John Trasviña and his staff on this important victory, and we look forward to continuing to work with HUD on its efforts on behalf of the LGBT community. We hope to work with entities like Bank of America as they bring their policies into compliance with the LGBT Equal Access Rule and train their staff to serve the LGBT community."


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