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NAACP Lawsuit: Banks Steered Qualified Black Buyers Into Subprime Mortgages

See, now I'm really confused. The people on the cable teevee told me this mortgage mess was the fault of all those dark-skinned people from ACORN who

See, now I'm really confused. The people on the cable teevee told me this mortgage mess was the fault of all those dark-skinned people from ACORN who got mortgages they couldn't afford to pay, and now it turns out they could - only the banks charged them as if they couldn't. You don't suppose the people on the teevee are covering up for the real culprits, do you?

The NAACP is accusing Wells Fargo and HSBC of forcing blacks into subprime mortgages while whites with identical qualifications got lower rates.

Class-action lawsuits were to be filed against the banks Friday in federal court in Los Angeles, Austin Tighe, co-lead counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told The Associated Press.

Black homebuyers have been 3½ times more likely to receive a subprime loan than white borrowers, and six times more likely to get a subprime rate when refinancing, Tighe said. Blacks still were disproportionately steered into subprime loans when their credit scores, income and down payment were equal to those of white homebuyers, he said.

Melissa Murray, vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo & Co., called the lawsuit "totally unfounded and reckless." The bank is receiving federal bailout funds.

[...] An NAACP member, Amara Weaver of Milwaukee, said she was one of the victims of predatory lending. She bought her first home in 1984, receiving a 6.25 percent fixed-rate mortgage. She says she had a steady job as a human resources director for a social services agency, never missed a mortgage payment and maintained excellent credit.

In 2004, she wanted to buy the house next door for her son to live in. She said the bank promised her a low fixed rate for a $40,000 loan, but at the closing, when reading the fine print, she noticed that the rate was actually 11 percent.

"I was blown away," said Weaver, an NAACP member. "I didn't have any choice (but to sign). ... It made me feel violated."

Similar NAACP lawsuits are pending against a dozen other subprime lenders.

"This is systematic, institutionalized racism," Tighe said. "Once you take out factors relative to income and credit risk, the only difference between the borrowers is the color of their skin."

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