Evans Bancorp in Hamburg, N.Y., has agreed to pay $825,000 to settle a lawsuit that accused the company of mortgage redlining.
The $909 million-asset holding company for Evans Bank was sued by New York's attorney general in September 2014, on allegations that it deliberately avoided making mortgage loans in Buffalo, N.Y., neighborhoods with large minority populations.
As part of the settlement, Evans will provide a $475,000 grant to the City of Buffalo to support homeownership, counseling, financial education and asset-building workshops for homebuyers.
Additionally, Evans will administer a $100,000 grant program to encourage homeownership in the East Side neighborhoods of Buffalo. Evans will also invest $200,000 in advertising and marketing for the program, and it will pay $50,000 to the attorney general's office to cover costs and fees.
Finally, Evans has agreed to revise policies for commercial and consumer lending and eliminate minimum-dollar amounts for mortgages.
“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 on unsubstantiated information and Evans would have eventually prevailed in court,” Chief Executive David Nasca said in a news release.
“We firmly believe that Evans did not violate any state or federal laws regarding our residential mortgage practices,” Nasca said. “The decision to enter into this settlement reflects our desire to concentrate on our core business without distraction.”
Evans had already planned to spend an amount close to the $825,000 portion of the settlement with the attorney general's office. In its second-quarter earnings release, Evans said it had set aside $1 million for expenses tied to the case.