In order to make Citigroup's "best practices" a reality, a coalition of civil rights and consumer groups is calling on the company to eliminate mandatory arbitration in subprime mortgage loans.Groups such as the AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the NAACP, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, Consumers Union, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and the Center for Responsible Lending say mandatory arbitration is out of step with the practices of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and many of the largest mortgage lenders in the country. Citigroup and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now recently agreed to what they call a "landmark partnership" to collaborate on initiatives to promote homeownership in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. By entering into the agreement, ACORN endorsed the lending initiatives and improvements that Citigroup has made since November 2000. Michael Shea, executive director of ACORN Housing Corp., Chicago, said Citigroup has made enough improvements to warrant the endorsement but that ACORN continues to disagree with the company on the issue of mandatory arbitration.

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