Do banks take better care of foreclosed property in white neighborhoods than in minority communities? A fair housing coalition says they do.
The coalition, made up of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the HOPE Fair Housing Center, the South Suburban Housing Center, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council and the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana announced a federal housing discrimination complaint against Bank of America Corporation.
The complaint alleges that an undercover investigation found that Bank of America maintains and markets foreclosed homes in white neighborhoods in a much better manner than in black and Latino neighborhoods in Chicago, Milwaukee and Indianapolis.
Eight other cities
The complaint is similar to one filed in September alleging the same activity took place in eight other cities. Bank of America, at that time, denied the charges.
The groups charge their investigation in 13 cities of 505 foreclosed homes owned, serviced or managed by Bank of America demonstrates that it has engaged in a systemic practice of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed, bank-owned homes in a state of disrepair in communities of color while maintaining and marketing real estate owned (REO) properties in predominantly white communities in a much better way.
"Good neighbors are considerate, they take care of their yards, pick up their trash and care for their neighborhoods," said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. "Bank of America is not a good neighbor in communities of color.”
State of disrepair
The complaint says foreclosed homes in minority neighborhoods often have broken windows and doors, water damage, overgrown lawns, trash on the property, and no “for sale” sign. Without a real estate sign, they say, prospective buyers won't know the property is available and neighbors have no way or reporting unauthorized occupants or storm damage.
Bank of America is not alone in being charged with discrimination. In April the same coalition filed a similar complaint against Wells Fargo. At the time it said its investigation of 218 foreclosed properties owned by Wells Fargo showed the lender had engaged in a systemic practice of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed, bank-owned properties in a state of disrepair in minority communities while maintaining and marketing REO properties in predominantly white communities in a far superior manner.