The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved a settlement between a fair lending group and OneWest Bank that settles allegations the financial institution engaged in the discriminatory housing policy known as redlining in Southern California.
The agreement stems from a complaint the California Reinvestment Coalition filed with HUD, alleging that from 2014 to at least 2017, OneWest’s marketing and origination practices discriminated on the basis of race and national origin. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Comptroller of the Currency Joseph M. Otting served, respectively, as OneWest’s chairman and chief executive before CIT Group acquired the Pasadena bank in 2015.
As part of the settlement, OneWest denied the allegations. But it agreed to invest $7.3 million in a variety of programs aimed at boosting homeownership in minority communities. That includes $5 million to subsidize home loans in Southern California census tracts where most residents are minorities.
“Homeownership is the foundation of the American dream,” Anna Maria Farías, HUD’s assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “Today’s settlement is an important step toward ensuring access to that dream for all borrowers, regardless of their race or national origin.”
OneWest also committed to originate $100 million in purchase, home-improvement and refinance loans in Southern California minority neighborhoods over a three-year period. HUD said the bank will also open a full-service branch in a neighborhood that is both majority-minority and low- and moderate-income.
In a statement, California Reinvestment Coalition executive director Paulina Gonzalez-Brito said the group was pleased with the commitments OneWest made to communities of color and that it looks forward “to seeing the positive impacts of these lending commitments and programs.”
CIT’s President of Consumer Banking Steve Solk said in a statement that the company remains “committed to serving the Southern California community with the tools, training and access to credit that is needed to pursue homeownership.”
Democrats criticized Mnuchin and Otting during their confirmation hearings for their roles at the bank, which they accused of engaging in aggressive foreclosure practices. Among the issues cited was a 2011 regulatory order from the Office of Thrift Supervision saying OneWest had failed to follow various procedures when foreclosing on homeowners.