PA Puts Spotlight on Redlining

As part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of redlining in the Philadelphia region, Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued a call today to all mortgage borrowers and home loan applicants in the area to file complaints with his office if they believe they may have been victims of redlining or experienced irregularities when looking for a mortgage or home loan.

The Office of Attorney General is investigating evidence of financial institutions refusing to make mortgage loans in Philadelphia neighborhoods because of their racial or ethnic makeup, or otherwise unlawfully dissuading minorities from applying for mortgage loans.

“Redlining represents institutional racism, and I committed to standing up for the civil rights of all Pennsylvania consumers,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “It is illegal for home lenders and banks to discriminate against applicants – and it sets city blocks and whole neighborhoods back. My Bureau of Consumer Protection and Civil Rights Section are investigating, and we need to hear from consumers who believe they’ve been victimized in the home lending and banking industries so we can hold those responsible accountable.”

Examples of redlining tactics or irregularities in mortgage include:

  • Difficulty getting an in-person appointment with a loan officer
  • Not receiving a written pre-approval or quote when the loan oficer promised one
  • Not receiving return phone calls from a loan officer, and
  • Refusal to provide a loan application after the loan officer learns of the race of the applicant, the racial makeup of the neighborhood where the consumer intends to buy the home or other information relating to the racial or ethnic characteristics of the area.

Consumers who believe they may be victims of these types of tactics should contact the Office of Attorney General at or call the office’s Civil Rights section at (717) 787-0882.

Earlier this year, a Reveal article identified a pattern of discrimination in which African American borrowers were 2.7 times more likely to be denied a home mortgage in Philadelphia than white borrowers.  The investigative article found white applicants received 10 times as many loans as black applicants, even though they make up similar proportions of the population. That investigation prompted Attorney General Shapiro to order an investigation by his Bureau of Consumer Protection of redlining practices in the Philadelphia region.  That investigation is active and ongoing.

“No one is above the law,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “If any financial institution or lender is engaging in illegal redlining in the Philadelphia area – or anywhere across our Commonwealth – we want to hear about it. Call or email my team. We’re working to protect every consumer from these harmful practices.”