By Guest Blogger Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Happy Fair Housing Month! This year, we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act. This would be a happier occasion if we could announce that we had eradicated unlawful housing discrimination. We can at least take this time to acknowledge the progress we have made.
In today’s blog, I would like to bring to your attention mortgage lending practices which the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has alleged unlawfully discriminate against borrowers with disabilities, and the relief we have obtained for such borrowers.
Let’s begin with the story of a woman named Renee. When Renee applied for a loan from Bank of America to purchase a home in Michigan, she probably did not expect to be asked about her disability or to be asked to provide medical information from a doctor. Yet that was what she said happened. She and other borrowers alleged that Bank of America had a policy of requiring homebuyers with disabilities to submit a letter from a doctor establishing that they would continue to receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits for at least three years. In some cases, borrowers said the bank inquired about the nature and severity of their disabilities.