Preventing discriminatory mortgage lending

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In 1977, Congress passed a law to combat a practice known as redlining, where for decades the government had discouraged lenders from extending mortgage loans to borrowers in Black neighborhoods. The law requires banks to lend to creditworthy lower-income people in the same neighborhoods where they have branches that take deposits. But the growth of the internet and mobile banking have made those rules increasingly obsolete. Banks, in effect, had a major presence in many neighborhoods where they had no branches.

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Article Contents

The move

The Federal Reserve and its fellow independent bank regulators drafted a new anti-redlining framework, which will go into effect starting in January 2026. It requires banks to lend to lower-income communities in areas where they have a concentration of mortgage and small-business loans, rather than just where they have physical branches.

The impact

While the update hasn’t taken effect yet, the hope is that it will quickly begin to direct more dollars into areas where banks haven’t previously faced obligations to lend more equitably.

The upshot

Financial agencies are still trying to figure out the best way to ensure access to credit within poorer communities nearly 50 years after the Community Reinvestment Act was passed. Indeed, the racial homeownership gap is actually wider now than it was in 1968, when redlining was still legal.



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