The National Fair Housing Alliance and five of its member organizations filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday accusing Bank of America of using discrimination when handling the foreclosed homes in its possession. The group claims that the bank maintains and markets foreclosed homes in white neighborhoods better the ones located in African-American and Latino neighborhoods.
The NFHA investigated 373 of Bank of America's foreclosed, or Real Estate Owned (REO), properties in eight metropolitan areas: Atlanta; Dallas; Dayton, OH; Grand Rapids, MI; Miami/Fort Lauderdale, FL; Oakland/Richmond/Concord, CA; Phoenix; and Washington, DC. It then evaluated each one based on curb appeal, structure, signage and occupancy, paint and siding, gutters, water damage and utilities to note discrepancies between those located in white neighborhoods and ones in predominantly minority communities.
"In the eight metropolitan areas where Complainants evaluated a number of Bank of America’s REO properties, the data and pictures collected in this investigation demonstrate that Bank of America has engaged in a systemic and particularized practice of maintaining and marketing its REO properties in a state of disrepair in communities of color while maintaining and marketing REO properties in predominantly White communities in a materially better condition," the complaint stated.
Bank of America is denying the allegations and claims that it practices fair tactics across all properties.
"Bank of America is committed to stabilizing and revitalizing communities that have been impacted by the economic downturn, foreclosures and property abandonment," bank spokesman Dan Frahm said. "We actively address the needs of such communities through existing programs, partnerships with nonprofits and governments and continued investment in innovative programs."
Bank of America is the second largest U.S. bank by assets and became the biggest U.S. mortgage lender in 2008 after buying out Countrywide Financial. The National Fair Housing Alliance also filed similar complaints against Wells Fargo & Co and U.S. Bancorp in April.
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