The Bank of America has agreed to pay out a lump sum of $7,500 to a couple denied a mortgage based on their sexuality.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] announced the settlement after action was taken against the Bank of America’s mortgage lending scheme. The lesbian couple, from Florida, were refused a mortgage based on their sexual orientation.
The agreement is the first implementation taken against the Housing and Urban Department since its recent regulation ensuring mortgages and other housing programs are open to all eligible applicants, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
As one partner was unemployed, the applicant used her mother as the co-applicant on the loan. After being assured by the Bank of America that they would most likely get the mortgage, the bank later denied the couple the mortgage as they were not married.
The HUD’s General Counsel, Helen Kanovsky, commented: “This agreement demonstrates that HUD will vigorously enforce its Equal Access rule and pursue lenders that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.” However, she added that “by the same token, Bank of America should be commended for stepping up and taking immediate corrective action after HUD notified Bank of America of the violation.”
John Trasviña, who works as the HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity commented on the discriminative nature of the couple’s experience by stating that “The HUD Equal Access Rule means just what it says: one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status is not a legitimate basis on which to deny a mortgage. Members of the housing industry should take note of this settlement agreement. HUD will enforce its regulations to make sure its programs are truly open to all qualified families.”