Buffalo, New York ranks as one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the country. Yesterday New York’s attorney general accused Evans National Bank of making it worse through redlining, or denying the predominantly African-American section of east Buffalo access to mortgage credit. The charge comes as African-American and Hispanic communities nationwide, which were disproportionately sold high interest mortgage loans pre-2008, now face a credit drought. Banks are not lending at all. And so the pendulum appears to have swung from one extreme to the next with the same outcome: significant systemic hurdles are still preventing many people of color from building wealth for their families and communities.
The New York suit dates the existence of Evans’ redlining to 2009. Evans Bank is a regional lender whose business in the Buffalo area dates back to the 1920s. As outlined in The New York Times, similar redlining suits have been filed since the recession against banks in Providence and Los Angeles. The L.A. suit is particularly interesting, as it accuses JP Morgan of both reverse redlining–steering people of color to predatory loans–and traditional redlining.