Treasurer Torsella Opens Inquiry Into Findings of Lending Disparities at Financial Institutions Handling PA Funds

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella today announced that his office has opened an official inquiry into three financial institutions for information regarding mortgage approval rates and lending practices. The financial institutions—Wells Fargo, Santander Bank, and PNC Financial Services—have been identified in a recent analysis by the Center for Investigative Reporting that identified lending disparities within racial and ethnic groups, widely considered to be modern-day redlining. The letter went to institutions that Treasury currently has a contractual relationship with, and petitioned the institutions to respond to the findings.

“No Pennsylvanian deserves to be held back because of the color of their skin. Home ownership has long been identified as one of the most common ways for the working and middle classes to build wealth, yet that opportunity has for too often and too long been denied to many of us. If any financial institution with these practices has a hand in unjustly denying a mortgage to a qualified applicant, this needs to be brought to light.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer, Joe Torsella

The Center for Investigative Reporting study identified lending disparities within racial and ethnic groups which caused people of color to be denied a conventional mortgage far more often than Caucasian applicants. The analysis included data illustrating that one of the widest lending disparities occurs in Philadelphia.

Treasury’s outreach to the financial institutions requests they directly respond to the analysis by March 7th. In addition, Treasury is also requesting information related to:

  • Any potential discrepancies in the accuracy of the data or findings from the CIR study;
  • Any potential differences in approval ratings associated to conventional home mortgages between Caucasian and other racial or ethnic groups; efforts to reduce or eliminate any differences; and
  • Copies of policies associated with underwriting criteria within the institutions services territory.
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