Coalition Urges Dept. of Justice to Require More Transparency in Settlement with Bank of America

Bank Should Publicly Report Local Data to Ensure Equal Access to Settlement

San Francisco, CA-June 12 , 2014- As the US Department of Justice reportedly negotiates an agreement with Bank of America over soured mortgage securities, the California Reinvestment Coalition is urging the DOJ to require the bank to disclose who is helped under the consumer relief provisions of a potential agreement- and who is not. CRC is calling on the DOJ to require BOA to publicly disclose homeowner race, ethnicity, and census tract level data for people who seek assistance under the reported $5 billion in homeowner relief which may be included in the settlement. Bank of America has already demonstrated that it can provide this type of information, since it did so in order to bid on a contract to provide banking services to the City of San Francisco in 2013.

Sharon Kinlaw, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley, states: “We’ve seen a number of mortgage settlements that were supposed to keep people in their homes- and yet, people are still being foreclosed on, especially in communities that were targeted for the worst loans. The DOJ should seize this historic opportunity to increase transparency and ensure equal access to any potential homeowner relief.”

Kevin Stein, Associate Director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, explains: “Over half of the housing counselors we recently surveyed believe that communities of color and homeowners with limited English proficiency receive worse outcomes when they seek help to avoid foreclosure from their mortgage servicer. Our concerns were reaffirmed by a February 2014 GAO report that analyzed nonpublic data from the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The GAO found statistically significant differences in the rate of denials and cancellations of trial modifications and in the potential for re-default for homeowners who are protected by fair lending laws.”

Divya Rao, CRC’s Legal Fellow adds: “The GAO analyzed nonpublic data from four mortgage servicers t oreach its conclusions, and the GAO did not disclose the names of these four servicers. We believe the public has a right to know, so we are submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of the Treasury today. We are asking the US Treasury Department to identify which four banks provided the data, and to disclose any steps the Department has taken to address the potential fair lending violations identified in the GAO report.”

Additional Background
Link to PDF of CRC Freedom of Information Act Request to Dept. of Justice
Link to New CRC Counselor Survey Report (Published May 2014)
Link to Bank of America’s homeowner data disclosure for San Francisco Banking RFP
Link to GAO Report (TROUBLED ASSET RELIEF PROGRAM: More Efforts Needed on Fair Lending Controls and Access for Non-English Speakers in Housing Programs) (February 2014)