WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government is opening an investigation of bias in the home loan industry, its effort spurred by huge anti-discrimination settlement with three mortgage lenders in Texas.

Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo says the nationwide investigation is part of a new effort to increase big-city home ownership by minorities and low-and-middle-income families.

Cuomo announced the investigation Tuesday. Just last week, three mortgage lenders in Texas settled housing discrimination complaints by making $1.4 billion in mortgage loans available over the next three years to low-income and minority home buyers.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development says it will test compliance with the national Fair Housing Act by using spot checks to disclose unlawful business practices that discriminate between white and minority loan applicants. In the Texas cases, white government agents posing as mortgage applicants received better treatment than black agents even though they presented similar financial statements.

The department will issue a housing discrimination report later in the year after completing its investigation.

The Fair Housing Act forbids discrimination by race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status and national origin in the sale, rental and financing of most housing in the United States.