MReport August 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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56 | TH E M R EP O RT O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T THE LATEST GOVERNMENT Putting Limits on HMDA Information Gathering Democratic Congress members have opposed a CFPB proposal on limiting information collected under HMDA. M ore than 60 Demo- cratic members of Congress, including Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Com- mittee Maxine Waters, protested a proposal by the Consumer Finan- cial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would limit lender information collected under the Home Mort- gage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The dissenting members sent a letter to Kathy Kraninger, Director, CFPB, asking her to "immediately rescind" proposals that would limit critical lending information collected under the HMDA. Included on the list of lawmak- ers opposing the proposals were Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Elijah Cummings. In May, the CFPB proposed raising the HMDA threshold for reporting closed-end mort- gage loans, and a proposal that would prevent the public from learning about predatory and discriminatory lending activities in communities, particularly rural communities. "The enactment of S. 2155 into law last year, recklessly exempted about 85% of depository institu- tions from reporting enhanced HMDA data about lending in underserved communities," the lawmakers wrote. "Now, the Consumer Bureau is proposing to cut deeper, exempting 1,720 financial institutions from basic HMDA reporting requirements for closed-end mortgage loans." Lawmakers pointed to evidence that showed discrimination in bank lending and stressed the importance of HMDA data to better understand access to credit in their communities. "This cannot be overstated: recent data has made clear that discrimination in lending continues to be a major problem, with conduct such as redlining continuing to be pervasive in too many communities across the country," the lawmakers wrote. "To promote fair lending, home- ownership, and stronger com- munities, the Consumer Bureau must ensure there is easy access to lending data. By putting much of this information back in the shadows, the Consumer Bureau is abandoning its mission and giving a free pass to those that would discriminate against otherwise creditworthy borrowers." The HMDA was enacted in 1975, responding to concerns that some lenders failed to provide ad- equate home financing to qualified applicants, which had contributed to a decline in housing conditions in communities of color. Tackling Housing Equality The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Equality Act aimed at protecting homeowners from discrimination. T he U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Equality Act by a vote of 236-173. The act includes protections for LGBTQ people against discrimination in housing. The act is intended to approximate current state anti-discrimination laws on a national level, providing a blanket of protection against discrimination through- out the country, adding protections against LGBT discrimination into the federal Civil Rights law. The Equality Act is one of several steps that has been made this year to protect LGBTQ homeowners from discrimination. Earlier, Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King joined with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine in promoting the Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019. The senators are introducing legislation intended to add gender identity and sexual orienta- tion to the classes that are protected from discrimination by the Fair Housing Act. "All Americans deserve a fair and equal opportunity in the sale, rental, or financ- ing of housing," said Senator Collins. "Throughout my Senate service, I have worked to end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, and it is time we ensure that all people have full access to housing regardless of their sexual ori- entation or gender identity. I urge our colleagues to join us in supporting this important legislation." "Safe and affordable housing is the basic building block for all Americans seeking to achieve economic, educational, and per- sonal success," Senator King said. "No one should be denied access to this vital resource because of who they are—but unfortunately, under current law, there are no protections from discrimination based on sexual orienta- tion or gender identity. This is wrong, plain and simple. We need this legislation to make sure LGBTQ Americans have the same ac- cess to housing as anyone else." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that landlords could be held liable for dis- crimination if they failed to respond to harassment faced by tenants who belong to a protected class. In its ruling, the three-member panel of judges said that not only did the Fair Housing Act create liability when a landlord intentionally discriminated against a tenant based on a protected characteristic, but "it also creates liability against a landlord that has actual notice of tenant-on-tenant harassment based on a protected status, yet chooses not to take any reasonable steps within its control to stop that harassment."

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