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Rejection of Home Loans to Blacks Soars : Real estate: The 29% denial rate is more than twice that of whites, who were rejected 13% of the time during the first half of 1989.

From Associated Press

Blacks were rejected more than twice as often as whites for home loans in the first half of 1989, a Treasury Department official testified Wednesday.

From the second half of 1988 to the first half of 1989, the rejection rate for blacks rose from 23% to 29%, Jerauld C. Kluckman told a Senate Banking subcommittee.

During the same period, the rejection rate for whites rose from 11% to 13%, Kluckman told the subcommittee on consumer and regulatory affairs. The panel is examining discrimination in the mortgage lending industry.

Kluckman, director of compliance programs at the Office of Thrift Supervision, said the agency is “concerned about these changes.” However, he cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from the data.

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“The differences in rejection rates, in and of themselves, do not indicate that savings associations are discriminating on a prohibited basis,” he said. For example, the data in their present state do not consider credit worthiness or the criteria set by lenders.

“The significance of the differences cannot be ignored, but can only be explored and explained through vigorous field examinations that thoroughly analyze a given savings association’s policies, procedures, lending programs and criteria,” he said.

Kluckman was one of several government witnesses at the hearing, chaired by Sen. Alan Dixon, (D-Ill.) Kluckman’s office, which regulates the savings and loan industry, was the only witness to have detailed data on refusals.

The number of witnesses reflected the number of entities involved in enforcing laws against lending discrimination: Comptroller of the Currency, Housing and Urban Development, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Federal Reserve.

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Dixon and others expressed surprise that despite statistics showing such a wide gap between loan approvals for blacks and whites, not one case had been referred to the Justice Department.

Witnesses said violations have been handled through administrative channels.

Assistant Housing Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield said that situation could change. “We are currently consulting with Justice in one case,” he said.

In a related development, Ronald Wienk, a senior regulator with the Office of the Comptroller, quit Wednesday, charging his agency with suppressing information on racial discrimination by banks in mortgage lending.

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“OCC’s failure to adequately perform its . . . responsibilities--particularly with regard to fair lending--prompts my resignation,” said Wienk, the agency’s special assistant for fair lending.

His charges, contained in a letter of resignation released by the Senate banking subcommittee, appeared to catch the agency by surprise.

“It is very difficult for me to react any way except total surprise,” Robert Herrman, senior deputy comptroller, told the subcommittee.

Agency spokeswoman Loenara Cross said later that the agency had decided not to release the data, culled from a survey of banks in 1987-88, because the questionnaire had been flawed and its results unclear.

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The agency did another survey last year after completely revising the questionnaire, but the results are not yet collated, she added.


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