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HUD Charges BofA With Discrimination

Matter referred to Department of Justice

Feb. 27, 2012

By staff

Just weeks after agreeing to a massive servicer settlement with federal and state officials, Bank of America has been charged with discriminatory lending.

The Department of Justice has been presented with charges that BofA discriminated against homeowners with disabilities, a statement from the Department of Housing and Urban Development said.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based lender discriminated by imposing "unnecessary and burdensome requirements on borrowers who relied on disability income to qualify for their home loans."

BofA, which wasn't immediately able to provide a statement, also allegedly required some disabled borrowers to provide physician statements during the qualification process.

Some borrowers were denied a loan before presenting the requested information.

HUD claims that the lender violated the Fair Housing Act.

HUD said that it initiated its own investigation, while complaints from three borrowers in Michigan and Wisconsin alleged that BofA required them to document personal medical information about their disability. Proof of continuance of their Social Security payments was allegedly required.

The federal housing agency said that the charge is also being issued as part of the work being done by the Federal Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force's non-discrimination working group.

The Department of Justice will now handle the matter, HUD said.

The action comes just less than three weeks since a $1 billion settlement was reached between HUD and BofA subsidiary Countrywide Financial Corp. in the "the largest ever False Claims Act settlement relating to mortgage fraud."

Including the HUD settlement, a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and orders issued by federal banking regulators, BofA had already estimated that its costs tied to the mortgage servicer settlement would total $11.8 billion.

"Holding homebuyers with disabilities to a higher standard just because they rely on disability payments as a source of income is against the law," said HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña in a statement. "Mortgage companies may verify income and have eligibility standards but they may not single out homebuyers with disabilities to delay or deny financing when they are otherwise eligible."

Bank of America profile

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