CfA Asks CFPB For Info About “Predatory Lending” Practices Of Berkshire Subsidiary Clayton Homes

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to follow up on a Seattle Times/Center for Public Integrity investigation into predatory lending practices of Clayton Homes, one of the nation’s largest mobile home sellers.  Last year, in the wake of the expose, several members of Congress had requested that the CFPB investigate the matter and take action.  Now, Clayton is expanding into selling modifiable homes costing $250,000 or less. Clayton is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which has been building the company into the mobile-home industry’s biggest manufacturer and lender.

Read the Freedom of Information Act request here.

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CfA Executive Director Daniel Stevens said, “Clayton Homes appears to have been preying on some of our most vulnerable citizens.  As the company expands its footprint to reach more Americans, it is imperative to know whether the government found any wrongdoing and, if so, what actions were taken.”

The 2015 expose, alleged that Clayton Homes relies on predatory sales practices, exorbitant fees, and excessive interest rates, trapping many buyers in unaffordable loans with no means of selling or refinancing.  According to the news reports, Clayton Homes’ subprime lender, Vanderbilt Mortgage, “baits [minority homebuyers] into costly subprime loans,” and charges minority borrowers “substantially higher rates” than their white counterparts.  In fact, the investigation found Vanderbilt “typically charges black people who make over $75,000 a year slightly more than white people who make only $35,000.”

In the wake of the revelations, in January 2016, several members of Congress, including Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), and Mike Capuano (D-MA) asked both the CFPB and the Department of Justice to investigate.

CFPB issued a written response, indicating the agency was “evaluating actions” it could take in response, but there is no evidence of any further action.  Clayton has been expanding rapidly, recently announcing its entry into the market for site-built, $250,000 and under housing.

Stevens continued, “Berkshire Hathaway’s genial chairman Warren Buffett, is frequently lauded for his concern for working class Americans.  Yet a company he owns may be victimizing some of our most vulnerable citizens.  Americans should know whether Clayton Homes is getting a pass from the government because of Mr. Buffett’s involvement.”

Campaign for Accountability is nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.

Article by Campaign For Accountability

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