The National Fair Housing Alliance is turning its attention to mortgage lenders to see whether they are steering women and minorities into high-cost subprime and Federal Housing Administration mortgages.While many are focused on predatory lending, "we are focused on regular discrimination by conventional lenders who steer women and persons of color to their subprime divisions even though they are clearly qualified for the prime side," NFHA president Shanna Smith told MortgageWire. "We are doing investigations into that issue." The NFHA has just completed two years of testing real estate agents in 12 metropolitan areas, and it is in the process of filing formal complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development against several real estate firms. If HUD does not act within 60-90 days, the NFHA says it will pursue litigation in federal court. "Our testing reveals discriminatory behavior and comments that are both striking and pervasive," Ms. Smith said at a news conference in Washington. The NFHA found that African-American testers posing as homebuyers were steered away from white neighborhoods while white testers were discouraged from seeing or buying homes in integrated and predominantly black neighborhoods.

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