HARRISBURG, PA – February 22, 2018 – Senator Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia) pressed the issue of “redlining” and discriminatory housing practices within Philadelphia during the budget hearing of Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
In response, Shapiro announced that his office has launched an investigation into the practice and pledged to work with Hughes and others to ascertain the extent and depth of redlining.
“I will take the somewhat unusual step of announcing here today that we have launched an investigation through and supported by the Bureau of Consumer Protection. We are chasing this down, and we take this seriously,” Shapiro said at the hearing.
Shapiro said that the findings in media reports detailing discrimination are completely unacceptable.
“The pervasiveness of what is being revealed to us around discriminatory lending practices is intolerable,” Hughes said at a budget hearing conducted by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Hughes serves as Democratic chair of the committee.
Redlining is the practice of banks withholding loans to people of color for home purchases in neighborhoods with a high density of immigrants and African-Americans. The federal Community Reinvestment Act was written to end redlining.
Hughes cited a study by the Center for Investigative Reporting which examined 31 million mortgage records from across the country. The report showed that Philadelphia was one of the largest problem areas where discriminatory lending practices persist.
Hughes said that systemic poverty in minority communities is perpetuated by practices such as an inability to own a home and accumulate personal wealth.
The Philadelphia lawmaker said that the issue of redlining and housing discrimination should have been solved 50 years ago and if it is happening in Philadelphia, it is certainly happening in other communities in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
“We need a coordinated effort to get at the root of this,” Hughes said.