WASHINGTON -- The secretary of housing and urban development, Henry B. Cisneros, has laid out plans to aggressively combat lending discrimination and insurance redlining.
Mr. Cisneros said on Wednesday he would create two new offices at HUD that focus exclusively on these issues.
They will be under the charge of Roberta Achtenberg, assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.
Mr. Cisneros also pledged to hold hearings and release new proposed rules by next September that focus exclusively on lending discrimination.
Attack on Discrimination
The release marked the most specific plan to date on HUD's attack on lending discrimination.
Since his appointment, Mr. Cisneros has pledged to step up his department's enforcement of fair housing laws, including relying on government testers to track down lending bias.
He has already signaled his willingness to work with the banking regulators to crack down on lenders.
In May, HUD and the Comptroller's office held a joint conference on lending bias, and pledged to work together to combat it.
A joint report due out in July, however, has not yet been released.
According to Mr. Cisneros's new plan, that joint report is scheduled to be released by next September, more than a year late. The plan also says HUD hopes to include other banking regulators in that effort.
Secretary Cisneros made the announcement as part of his release of the HUD'S six priorities for the next year: reducing homelessness, improving public housing, reforming the Fair Housing Administration, combatting discrimination, supporting community-based initiatives, and improving management within HUD.
Warren Lasko, executive vice president of the Mortgage Bankers Association. applauded Mr. Cisneros's effort to lay out his agenda for the coming year.
In addition to toughening enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, he said, the department wants to develop cooperative relationships with lenders.
His group is working with HUD to plan joint homebuyers seminars in inner cities. "There's no question that mortgage discrimination is a front-burner topic in the housing finance arena," Mr. Lasko said.
The mortgage lending industry is going to have to step up and address the fact that it is in the spotlight when it comes to the HMDA (Home Mortgage Disclosure Act) data and community lending," Mr. Lasko said.
As part of his statement of priorities for the next year, Mr. Cisneros pledged to:
* Investigate FHA-approved lenders that have the worst fair-lending records.
* Increase funding for local groups that investigate lenders and insurers.
* Speed up its processing Fair Housing Act complaints.
* Publish a proposed regulation governing the fair housing requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
* And hold a national summit on fair housing.