Community calls for action as new report shows Wells Fargo leads redlining of communities of color in Twin Cities

Community calls for action as new report shows Wells Fargo leads redlining of communities of color in Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN (April 10, 2014) – Faith and community leaders from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, ISAIAH, and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy gathered on the steps of City Hall to call for action to address inequities as a new report by the Institute of Metropolitan Opportunity shows that Wells Fargo and other big banks systematically denied credit and refinancing of subprime mortgages to communities of color in the Twin Cities from 2009-2012.

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“I was preyed upon even within my church,” said Ruby Brown, who struggled for a mortgage refinance of her north Minneapolis home for years, and finally won a new loan after a national public pressure campaign against Bank of America. “Now I’m fighting for principal reduction because even with my new loan I’m still underwater.

“This report shows redlining is alive and well, and in some ways worse than it’s ever been. It’s not only immoral and unjust, but illegal,” said Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC). “We expect the city of Minneapolis to take decisive steps to hold these financial institutions accountable, to ensure that our community is not a playground for corporate greed. My hope is that we turn this into an opportunity to reclaim our stolen wealth and bridge the outrageous racial divides in our city. We know the big banks will not do this on their own.”

“I was preyed upon even within my church,” said Ruby Brown, who struggled for a mortgage refinance of her north Minneapolis home for years, and finally won a new loan after a national public pressure campaign against Bank of America. “Now I’m fighting for principal reduction because even with my new loan I’m still underwater. We stand here today asking the banks to do the right thing. Band with us and take a stand. Come together, help us help everyone else.”

The report found that from 2009-2012 loan denial rates for home purchases were about three times higher in predominantly non-white areas than in predominantly white ones. Regardless of race, middle and high income households were much more likely to be denied loans in predominantly non-white areas. According to the report: “If the home loan portfolios of the region’s banks simply reflected the actual distribution of homeowners and household incomes, more than 13,300 additional loans would have been made to diverse and majority non-white neighborhoods over the four years from 2009 to 2012 (a 55% increase).”

“We have to remember this isn’t about statistics, it’s about people,” said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden. “This is a report with important, shocking information. This is not the Minneapolis we want to be. We need to figure out the proper role of city government in addressing this. From my perspective, the banks have not done enough.”

“Our faith affirms the fundamental dignity and worth of all people, whatever their race, class, gender, nationality, or the neighborhood they live in,” said Rev. Kelly Chatman, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and member of ISAIAH’s clergy caucus.  “The racist practices of banks and mortgage lenders are unacceptable and our faith calls us to respond. The Bible says, and I believe, that when one part suffers, every part suffers with it. The city needs to take action to end the suffering and make sure the banks repair the harm that has been done.”

Wells Fargo, the region’s largest lender, accounted for nearly one third of the racial disparities alone. NOC and ISAIAH are calling on the city to investigate the possibility of a lawsuit against Wells Fargo.

“Lawsuits have been used in other cities, like Baltimore and Memphis,” said Council Member Cam Gordon. “As we look into this, we’ll look into remedies used in other cities.”

The report can be found at http://www.law.umn.edu/metro/index.html.

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