The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Friday, March 9th, that it has reached an agreement with Alpine Bank & Trust resolving allegations that the Northern Illinois-based lender discriminated against African American and Hispanic mortgage applicants. The agreement stems from a complaint filed with HUD by HOPE Fair Housing Center of Wheaton, Illinois, claiming the Alpine’s business service areas excluded majority African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods.

HOPE’s complaint alleged the bank’s lack of a presence in majority African-American and Hispanic communities in the Rockford area made financial products less available to potential applicants based on their race and national origin. The complaint also alleged that only one of Alpine’s 14 branch locations, is in a Census tract that is more than 10% African American and that Alpine provided white applicants with better information, and offered them more favorable terms and conditions on mortgage loan products than African American and Hispanic applicants.

As part of the HUD-mediated settlement, Alpine Bank will:

  • Establish a $1 million loan program to increase mortgage lending to residents in majority African-American and Hispanic areas in the Rockford metropolitan area;
  • Pay $75,000 to HOPE;
  • Offer targeted community outreach to minority areas, including seminars relating to financial literacy, homeownership, and credit counseling, and conduct a direct mailing campaign in majority African-American areas;
  • Provide fair lending training for its mortgage lending staff, and;
  • Research the possibility of opening a new automated services branch in a majority-minority neighborhood in the Rockford metropolitan area.