September 11, 2015

Bank ends 'redlining' lawsuit with $1M settlement

Evans Bancorp, a local New York bank, agreed to pay nearly $1 million to end a lawsuit claiming the bank violated the Fair Housing Act by "redlining," or failing to offer mortgages to predominantly minority communities regardless of consumers' creditworthiness.

Last year, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed suit against the bank in state court.

Authorities found that other banks in the Buffalo area, where Evans is located, lent far more generously, The New York Times reported, but Evans Bancorp said it would have likely prevailed in court had it not decided to settle.

"Throughout the course of this matter, no specific incidents were ever claimed, described or identified, and as such, we believe the underlying lawsuit was based upon unsubstantiated information, and Evans would have eventually prevailed in court," the bank said in a statement recorded by the NYT. "Regardless, Evans believes that this settlement is in the best interests of the community and our shareholders."

Part of the settlement will be used to support the development of affordable housing in Buffalo, the NYT reported. Evans Bancorp also agreed to invest $200,000 in advertising and marketing to reach Buffalo's East Side, a predominately African-America area.