California this month began enforcing a new anti-redlining law that state officials say is the toughest in the nation.
The law gives California officials the power to order a bank or savings and loan association to make a mortgage loan in cases where the state finds that the borrower was turned down because of redlining or other discrimination.
It also requires lenders to make public their criteria for granting mortgages, to set up affirmative action programs for lending in inner-city neighborhoods and to tell the state where new loans are being made.
Signed into law Oct. 3 by Gov. Edmund "Jerry" Brown, the new law extends to all lenders the provisions of state regulations that have governed state-chartered savings and loan associations for more than a year.
Experience under the regulations already shows more mortgages are being granted in black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Oakland and Watts, the ghetto of Los Angeles, state officials say.
With state regulators looking over their shoulders, the S&Ls generally increased their lending in neighborhoods that previously wereconsidered off limits, said a spokesman for the California Department of Savings and Loans.
A report on the first year shows 45 would-be borrowers complained to the state agency about alleged redlining and 40 of the cmplaints were settled administratively. Five of the complaints required further action and in some cases, the state ordered the loan granted, the spokesman said.
State officials stress that they are not empowered to force lenders to make bad loans or to bend their usual loan criteria to benefit homebuyers in inner city neighborhoods. In most cases no formal order to grant a mortgage is necessary, they said, because lenders change their minds in the face of state threats.
State-chartered savings and loans dominate the single family home mortgage market in California and have two-thirds of all the S&L asset in the state.
But California cannot require federally chartered savings institutions or national banks to comply with the state law, leaving a sizable portion of the California mortgage market exempt from the rules.