Consumer groups are urging the monitor of the national mortgage settlement to add data on race, ethnicity and geography to determine whether the five largest servicers are offering relief to communities hit hardest by foreclosures. But language in the settlement agreement may prevent Joseph A. Smith, the independent monitor, from doing so.
Members of the Foreclosure Working Group of Americans for Financial Reform sent a letter to Smith last week asking that he add a new metric to the settlement that would measure fair lending compliance. Smith says he has had “helpful discussions” with consumer advocates about using Home Mortgage Disclosure Act-type data that could test for anti-discriminatory policies and procedures. But he does not have the authority to create a so-called “outcomes-based metric” regarding discrimination, which would involve sampling of loan level data against a proposed benchmark.