DOJ files lawsuit against Ruston Housing Authority alleging race discrimination | The News Star |

The Justice Department announced Monday that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Housing Authority for the City of Ruston has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-American tenants, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

The Ruston Housing Authority is a public housing authority that provides housing for persons of low income in Ruston. Currently, the Ruston Housing Authority owns and maintains five housing complexes in Ruston.

The complaint alleges that the Ruston Housing Authority maintained a racially segregated housing authority by steering and assigning applicants to its five complexes based on race, rather than in order of their placement on the Ruston Housing Authority’s waiting list. The complaint also alleges that the Ruston Housing Authority’s discriminatory assignment practices have harmed dozens of applicants and tenants who were assigned to segregated housing or delayed housing because of their race.

“Access to housing free from racial discrimination is everyone’s right, including those who seek public housing assistance,” said Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The department will continue its vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.”

“The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to addressing unlawful discriminatory practices and enforcing anti-discrimination laws,” said Stephanie A. Finley, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. “Today’s filing is an example of our continuing efforts to end discrimination.”

A message left for the Ruston Housing Authority was not returned Monday evening.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status.

via DOJ files lawsuit against Ruston Housing Authority alleging race discrimination | The News Star |

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Wells Fargo Gets Away with $175 Million Penalty for Racist Lending Practices

John Stumpf, president of Wells Fargo since 2005

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, cheated at least 34,000 minority homeowners during the 2004-2008 housing boom, either charging them more for their mortgages or steering them into risky loans. For these acts of discrimination the bank has agreed to pay a penalty of $175 million, while not admitting any wrongdoing.
Out of the $175 million settlement, the bank will pay $125 million to the black and Hispanic individuals who were victimized by Wells Fargo’s racist lending practices. The other $50 million will go towards direct down payment assistance to borrowers in communities that were hit hard by the housing crisis and disproportionately impacted by the bank’s discriminatory loans.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it went after Wells Fargo after finding it had conned black and Hispanic borrowers into paying more than white homeowners—“not based on borrower risk, but because of their race or national origin.”
Using a practice known as “steering,” Wells Fargo gave 4,000 African-Americans and Hispanics subprime mortgages even when they qualified for prime loans.
Mike Heid, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, told The New York Times that the bank agreed to settle the case “because we believe it is in the best interest of our team members, customers, communities and investors to avoid a long and costly legal fight, and to instead devote our resources to continuing to contribute to the country’s housing recovery.”
The settlement awaits final approval by a federal judge.
The Wells Fargo case follows another involving Bank of America, which agreed late last year to pay $335 million to resolve similar charges against Countrywide, which it acquired in 2008.

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