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      Review: Blacks in Florence twice as likely to be denied home loans as whites

      The City of Florence Department of Community Services conducted a review on fair housing impediments in the city.

      The Department's Director, Scotty Davis, says the review found possible impediments with unequal access to mortgage financing from some Florence lending institutions, as well as a low number of loans available to African-Americans and disparities in property insurance coverage.

      Information for the review was collected from realtors, banks, and Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data, according to Davis.

      The review found blacks are twice as likely to be turned down for a home loan than whites in Florence.

      It says whites have a denial rate of 18%, while the rate for blacks is at 37%.

      Some of the reasons for the denials are poor credit history and high debt to income ratios, according to Davis.

      His review found property insurance rates are higher for minorities because companies use credit scores to determine insurance eligibility and premiums.

      Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela called the information disturbing.

      Councilman Ed Robinson says he's been saying for more than 20 years, that some banks in Florence discriminate against African-Americans.

      "This is my fight ever since I been here. We have been mistreated. We have been left out and nobody is up here jumping up and down , but Ed Robinson. And then they don't pay me no attention anymore. That's just Ed Robinson, don't pay him no attention. But as long as it happens, I'm gone jump up and down," said Robinson.

      He added if the city is doing business with any of the lending institutions found to have disparities, it needs to stop.

      The review came up with several action plans to address the disparities.

      The city will more fully develop and promote a program to provide information to residents about what is required to get a mortgage and renovation loans and how government programs might help.

      The program would also describe predatory lending and how to detect and avoid such loan offers.

      The city says it will also ask lenders to better work with applicants to address their credit problems.

      Lenders will be asked to share with applicants the specific information on the credit report as to why they were denied the loan.

      Lenders will also be asked to give the applicant the opportunity to investigate questionable credit information prior to denial of home mortgage application by bank.

      Mayor Wukela asked Davis and his staff to look deeper into this issue and present more information at the council's next meeting.