You will only see a few "For Sale" signs on homes if you visit the South Side of Providence, and the Mayor says it is intentional. So he and others are filing a lawsuit against Santander Bank, saying the company based in Spain is not making enough loans to minorities in Providence.
"Qualified residents. Qualified residents of minority communities are unable to obtain good credit or prime loans, residents need good credit to refinance a house, to avoid foreclosure," said Mayor Angel Taveras (D) Providence.
The Mayor says that hurts the city's overall economy, by depressing real estate values.
ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "City officials say they reviewed 18 months worth of mortgage records, from this bank (Santander), that show that lending was up in predominantly white neighborhoods, but down in minority neighborhoods."
The city's lawyers even plotted out a scatter chart to show where the minority discrimination practice – known as redlining -- is at its worst.
"That as the Mayor has said, is illegal under the fair housing act. It's illegal under the United States fair lending laws," said John Ralman, a civil rights attorney hired by the City of Providence to press its case.
And because of that, unsold property falls into disrepair and is boarded up, making overall property values drop further.
"There are still boarded up homes in this neighborhood and across the City of Providence, that we could make a difference with if people were getting good loans," said Mayor Taveras.
The federal lawsuit could seek millions in damages. Santander Bank has yet to comment on the legal action.