Nonetheless, some stakeholders expressed uncertainty as to the treatment of ECOA and Regulation B SPCPs under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). While SPCPs are specified under ECOA, they are not specified under the FHA. However, in December 2021 the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued guidance confirming SPCPs for real estate loans or credit assistance that are compliant with ECOA and Regulation B generally would not violate the FHA.
In February 2022, the CFPB joined with seven other federal agencies and released a statement appealing to lenders to consider ways to heighten credit access through SPCPs in ways that could enhance lenders’ serving historically disadvantaged communities.
Homeownership is one of the primary ways in which American families build and pass on wealth to the next generation. Lenders have an interest in meeting the credit needs of underserved communities while meeting and furthering business objectives. SPCPs can be used to expand credit access for underserved borrowers who have been overlooked but can repay their debt. SPCPs are one way to address this gap and bring fair access to financial services to additional potential homeowners.
Government agencies and lenders are identifying new ways to advance equity by increasing homeownership opportunities for underserved populations. Numerous financial institutions have dedicated billions of dollars to increasing ways to meet the needs of underserved communities. Further, lenders are increasingly interested in taking more proactive means to develop lending opportunities for members of communities of color that have faced discrimination and historically been excluded from access to credit and housing. These endeavors can be a fundamental part of a financial institution’s efforts to serve a broader community. However, lenders must be cognizant to undertake these activities in compliance with the obligations of ECOA, Regulation B, and the FHA.
Note that the applicable agencies do not determine whether a program qualifies for special purpose credit status. Accordingly, financial institutions must determine whether their programs qualify for special purpose credit status.