Suffolk Federal Credit Union settles lending discrimination suit

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The Suffolk Federal Credit Union reached a settlement with a housing group in a case over alleged lending discrimination against African-Americans and Latinos.

The federal bias complaint charged the lender with unfairly treating minorities who sought information about mortgage loans.

Ian Wilder is the executive director of Long Island Housing Services, the nonprofit that filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2016.

"The accusation was there was potentially bias against people who were trying to get mortgages based on race or ethnic background," he says.

The nonprofit says it looked for discrimination by conducting field tests that involved having an African-American or Latino applicant ask for information about refinancing a loan or buying a first home -- and then having a slightly less qualified white applicant ask for the same information.

In its complaint, LI Housing Services said that the white applicants received faster and better service.

The credit union denied charges of discrimination but said it reached a settlement because it was "in the best interest of our members to resolve this matter."

As part of the deal, Suffolk Federal Credit Union will provide subsidies of up to $1,250 each to eight borrowers a year.

The lender says the subsidies can be used for down payments and closing costs in certain underserved Suffolk zip codes in Amityville, Bay Shore, Bellport, Brentwood, Central Islip, Copiague, Islandia and Wyandanch.

Wilder says the subsidies are available immediately. Those interested should contact the Long Island Housing Services or Suffolk Federal Credit Union. 

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