In February, the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP settled a racial discrimination complaint against the Nationwide Insurance Companies. Under terms of the settlement, Nationwide agreed to establish a $500,000 low-interest loan program for home buyers and home owners. Nationwide will also contribute $750,000 to a program that encourages people to save money for home purchases.
HOME and the NAACP accused Nationwide of redlining certain areas of Cincinnati. Redlining occurs when terms and conditions for insurance for people in one geographic area are different from the terms and conditions for people in another area. HOME and the NAACP asserted that Nationwide gave less coverage and charged more money for home owners policies in Cincinnati neighborhoods with high concentrations of nonwhite home owners.
Over the last three years, Nationwide has settled lawsuits filed by fair housing groups around the country. Most recently, the Lexington Fair Housing Council in Kentucky received a $440,000 redlining settlement in March 1998, and the Toledo Fair Housing Center received a $3.5 million settlement one month later. In February 1997, Nationwide settled a Justice Department redlining lawsuit for $13.2 million. In October 1998, a Virginia jury awarded $100 million to Housing Opportunities Made Equal in Richmond.
In a press release, Karla Irvine, the executive director of HOME Cincinnati, said that Nationwide "has made a real and substantial commitment to better serve urban Cincinnati and its residents."