Old National accused of discriminatory housing practices | New

INDIANAPOLIS – The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana has accused Old National Bank of excluding Black Hoosiers from residential mortgages.

FHCCI filed a lawsuit in federal court against Old National on October 7, which came to the attention of State Representative Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis. In a statement, Pryor pledged to end discriminatory housing practices.

“One of the biggest items you will buy in your life is a house,” she said. “So when you don’t allow people to buy a house, or give them a loan to buy a house, you don’t allow them to build their wealth. “

The concept of excluding people, especially members of the black community, from mortgages is often referred to as redlining and was made illegal in 1968 by the Fair Housing Act. The Indiana Historical Society looked at the persistent practice in a series of programs in fall 2020, saying it still defines a big part of where we live or can live in Indianapolis.

In 2019, Old National only made eight loans to blacks across Marion County, according to the FHCCI. The organization claims the bank has also disproportionately closed branches in black Indianapolis neighborhoods.

“During the period under review, Old National Bank has been one of the worst performers in providing mortgages to black housing applicants in central Indiana,” said Amy Nelson, executive director of Fair Housing. Center.

A message left at Old National headquarters in Evansville on Wednesday by The Statehouse File went unanswered. Earlier, Old National rep Kathy Schoettlin denied the red line in an email to The Indianapolis Star.

“Old National strongly and categorically denies the allegations made in this lawsuit. As a community bank, we are committed to fair, responsible and equitable lending practices, ”she said. “It’s just who we are, and it’s one of the reasons we’ve been recognized over the past decade as one of the most ethical companies in the world. “

According to its website, Old National has two branches in Anderson, as well as numerous branches in surrounding counties.

The bank is on track for a $ 2.5 billion merger with First Midwest Bankcorp in Chicago. Despite the possible lawsuit, planning is moving forward, according to National Mortgage News.

Nelson said the United States has never effectively dealt with redlining practices in a way that truly ensures they don’t continue.

“The result is that they [minorities] cannot access equity when they may need it for health concerns, to educate children or plan for retirement, or even to pass generational wealth on to their children, which would allow them to prosper as children. Whites were able to, ”she said.

Pryor says continued redlining contributes to systematic racism and a violation of civil rights.

“Redlining in Indiana systematically deprives black Americans of their opportunities to realize the American dream,” she said. “I will continue to push for legislation that addresses the racial disparities that have deprived Black Hoosiers of life opportunities and our state and country of their contributions.”

Haley pritchett is a journalist for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news site powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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