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Task force to study lending to minorities

Mayor Jim Newberry has created a Commission on Mortgage Lending Practices to come up with solutions to why blacks in Lexington pay higher interest rates for home mortgage loans than whites.

Lexington ranks 40th in the nation and first in the state in disparities between loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers, based on race.

The commission has two main missions, Newberry said Thursday.

The first is to come up with ways to make financial education programs more accessible to borrowers. The second is to encourage ethical lenders to step up and provide financial services to the "broader community."

D. McGuiness Mitchell, president and CEO of National Diversity Solutions, will be chairman of the 13-member commission made up of representatives of lending institutions, affordable housing, Realtors and advocates for the poor. Newberry directed to the commission to complete its report by the end of the year.

Newberry's actions were prompted by a report released in September showing that more than half of loans to low- and moderate-income minority borrowers were high-cost loans.

"These borrowers were two times more likely to receive a high-cost loan than whites with similar incomes," Newberry said at a press conference in the Government Center on Thursday morning to announced formation of the commission.

"These findings are unacceptable to me, and I am confident they are unacceptable to Lexingtonians," he said.