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News from the Field

The History of Lending Discrimination: Systemic racism still bolsters the racial wealth gap

Laws today protect borrowers from discriminatory lending practices, but that wasn’t always the case. For decades U.S. banks denied mortgages to Black families—and those belonging to other minority groups—who lived in certain areas “redlined” by a federal government agency called the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC).


  • Lending discrimination occurs when lenders base credit decisions on factors other than the applicant’s creditworthiness.
  • The practice of redlining made it impossible for many members of minority groups to qualify for loans to buy and improve homes.
  • Redlining is one factor behind the persistent racial wealth gap in the U.S. today.
  • Laws today forbid discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, familial status, age, and whether you receive public assistance income.

CONTINUE READING for a thorough overview of why our current housing situation is a legacy of the 1930’s mortgage programs.

Topic: Housing