Recent revelations concerning potential racial discrimination in residential lending — notably in Philadelphia — have led U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and state Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-7) to formally request a federal investigation.
The pair have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlining their request.
In the joint letter to Sessions, Casey and Hughes said they are “shocked by revelations” in an investigative report by the Center for Investigative Reporting that modern-day redlining is occurring in 61 metropolitan areas across the country.
Philadelphia was cited as a prime example of current-day redlining, according to a news release.
Redlining is a form of racial discrimination in housing that was outlawed decades ago. The practice involves banks withholding loans to people of color in selected neighborhoods.
Generally, the communities that were redlined had a higher density of African-Americans or immigrants.
“Redlining and racial discrimination have no place in any community, especially not a community as diverse as Philadelphia,” the senators wrote.
Casey and Hughes said the “findings must be completely and fully investigated and if the claims are found to have merit, the appropriate and necessary steps should be taken to ensure that these practices cease.”
Casey and Hughes turned to federal officials to investigate as all banks are covered by federal fair lending laws.
“Attorney General Sessions should instruct the appropriate office in the Department of Justice to immediately investigate the issues raised in the report,” Casey said in the release.
“The issues identified are substantive, involve multiple jurisdictions and include serious allegations implicating the banking industry.”
Hughes said the federal government must engage on the issue now and that any delay in getting to the facts, finding the extent of the practice and identifying the lending institutions involved would be unconscionable.
“This is a federal responsibility and the full investigative authority of the Department of Justice should be utilized,” Hughes said. “Redlining was outlawed 50 years ago,” he said.
The federal Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibit racial discrimination in housing. The measures were signed into law in 1968 and 1974, respectively.
In the letter, the senators said both Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and state Treasurer Joe Torsella have announced state investigations into the allegations of redlining.