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A new report suggests banks are doing more to maintain a good appearance on foreclosed homes in predominately white neighborhoods versus Black neighborhoods. The findings are the center of a complaint filed Tuesday by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and four member organizations.
The complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against Wells Fargo & Co. and Wells Fargo Bank stemmed from a recent study by the NFHA. The organization inspected more than 1,000 foreclosed properties in nine major U.S. cities and found foreclosed houses in white neighborhoods to be generally well maintained, while foreclosed houses in minority neighborhoods had overgrown vegetation, visible garbage and were systematically abandoned by the banks.
“REO [Real Estate Owned] properties in communities of color generally appeared vacant, abandoned, blighted and unappealing to real estate agents who might market the unit to homebuyers,” the report reads. “On the other hand, REOs in white communities generally appeared inhabited, well-maintained and attractive to real estate agents and homebuyers.”
Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Dayton, Ohio, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Oakland/Richmond/Conford, California, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. were among the areas studied.
In Atlanta, homes in Black neighborhoods were 4.65 times more likely than white neighborhoods to be missing “for sale” signs. Additionally, minority homes were 82 percent more likely to have boarded-up or broken windows, and one-third of homes in Black neighborhoods had broken or unsecured doors, compared to 14 percent in mainly white areas.
Wells Fargo currently serves one out of every six home loans in the U.S. The bank declined to comment, saying officials have yet to see the complaint.
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