As the recent financial crisis revealed, financial products—particularly risky and predatory products—have the potential to wreak havoc on consumers and the wider economy. Communities of color have been among the hardest hit by the financial crisis. African American households saw their median wealth drop 53 percent between 2005 and 2009. Hispanic households saw an even steeper drop of 66 percent. Unequal access to responsible credit is often the root of these trends and problems, affecting consumers’ ability to get home mortgages, student loans, auto loans, and credit cards.
During this administration’s tenure, the U.S. Department of Justice created the Fair Lending Unit in the Civil Rights Division to address discrimination in lending. The unit filed a record number of fair lending cases in 2011, including a landmark $335 million settlement with Countrywide Financial Corporation.
Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in response to the financial crisis, and it specifically created the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity to focus on ensuring fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory access to credit for both individuals and communities. The Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are both working to curb credit discrimination, to ensure fair access to credit for everybody, and to crack down on practices that hurt economic fairness.
Please join the Center for American Progress for a discussion with Tom Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, and Patrice Ficklin, assistant director for the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on credit discrimination and its impact on communities across America today and ways to create a fairer economic system for all Americans. Center for American Progress Action Fund President Tom Periello will moderate the discussion.
Tom Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Justice
Patrice Ficklin, Assistant Director for the Office of Fair Lending & Equal Opportunity, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Tom Perriello, President and CEO, Center for American Progress Action Fund; Counselor for Policy, Center for American Progress