April 24, 2018

Warren Presses HUD Secretary Carson, Regulators for Information on Efforts to Combat Housing Discrimination

After Trump Declares April "National Fair Housing Month," Senator Raises Concerns about Administration Rolling Back Fair Housing Laws

Text of letters (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent letters to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg, and Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Jerome Powell to request information on the agencies' efforts to combat housing discrimination.  The letters come as the Trump Administration has taken numerous steps to roll back and undermine the enforcement of laws and regulations protecting families of color from housing discrimination.  

On March 30, in recognition of the Fair Housing Act's fiftieth anniversary, President Trump declared April 2018 as National Fair Housing Month and announced that his Administration intends to "deliver on the promise outlined by the Fair Housing Act, by ending prejudice and unlawful discriminatory practices in the sale, lease, and financing of housing."  According to recent studies, minority renters and buyers face still face rampant discrimination.

In her letters to the agencies responsible for enforcing some of the nation's housing discrimination laws - HUD, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), FDIC, and the Fed - Senator Warren outlines each agency's record on housing discrimination and asks a series of questions on what steps they are taking to fulfill President Trump's vow to end housing discrimination.  "To combat housing and lending discrimination, it is critical that federal regulators uphold and enforce the rules put in place to protect American communities," Senator Warren wrote.  

Senator Warren's letter to HUD, citing testimony by Secretary Ben Carson in which he promised to follow up on claims that HUD is "constantly involved in lawsuits that it has brought against people for housing discrimination," seeks further clarification on a number of steps the agency has taken to undermine existing fair housing laws and regulations.  In her letters to the OCC, FDIC, and Fed, Senator Warren requests information on the agencies' approach to modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act, a law designed to address redlining. 

On February 16, 2018, Senator Warren joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), along with their House and Senate colleagues, in writing to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney about how he intended to carry out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) statutorily mandated responsibility to ensure compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act after he announced his decision to reorganize the CFPB's Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity. Those laws allow the CFPB to detect and pursue lending discrimination in the mortgage market.  Mr. Mulvaney did not respond to any of the 14 specific questions, and instead asserted without proof that the reorganization "will not hamper" the Bureau's enforcement and supervisory work.

The Senator called on the agencies to provide detailed answers to her questions by no later than May 8, 2018.