The National Community Reinvestment Coalition has filed complaints with HUD against dozens of lenders who have set minimum borrower credit scores as high as 640 for Federal Housing administration (FHA) loans, even though FHA guarantees loans to borrowers with scores as low as 580.
NCRC claims that this practice, known as credit overlays, “violates this nation’s commitment to fair lending, sustainable home-ownership, and meeting the credit needs of all communities,” and is in violation of the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Community Reinvestment Act. The claim accuses a majority of the top 50 FHA lenders of discriminatory conduct, saying the overlays disproportionately affect — and were disproportionately applied to — otherwise responsible Latino and African-American borrowers.
In February, as a result of its campaign, NCRC announced that Wells Fargo and Quicken Loans had agreed to reform their policies. Discussions with other lenders are underway. “There’s no good business excuse for this practice,” says NCRC’s Jesse Van Tol. “The loans are 100 percent guaranteed, and the lender is only at risk for their own underwriting errors. This is a critical civil rights and fairness issue affecting our communities.”