Beginning with a 1993 Washington Post series on racial disparities in mortgage rejection rates at banks in the Washington area, there has been increasing recognition that the disparities may result from the even-handed application of traditional lending criteria, which minorities have a harder time satisfying.

In March 1994, 10 federal agencies involved in monitoring fair-lending laws issued a policy statement placing greater emphasis on the disparate impact lenders' policies may have on minorities. The statement noted, for example, that minimum loan amounts may have greater adverse effects on minorities and indicated that banks would have to justify their use of such criteria.

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