Bank of America Faces Discrimination Complaint for Neglecting Bank-owned Homes in Minority Neighborhoods
The National Fair Housing Alliance has teamed up with five affiliated organizations to file a complaint against Bank of America for discriminating against bank-owned houses in minority neighborhoods in eight cities. Bank of America is accused of discriminating in how it maintains and markets bank-owned houses in minority neighborhoods.
The President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, Shanna Smith, confirmed that an investigation was conducted to find out if, after acquiring homes through foreclosure, Bank of America maintained the homes in Black and Latino neighborhoods as well as the homes in White neighborhoods.
The complaint is being filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and it is being filed after similar complaints were filed, by the alliance, against Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp.
In a conference call, Smith said that they had found “significant racial disparity.”
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, a dog was found dead, lying in a pile of trash and leaves in a Black neighborhood. The home was owned by Bank of America, acquired through foreclosure.
The counsel for National Fair Housing Alliance, Peter Romer-Friedman, said that the federal Fair Housing Act obligated Bank of America to treat all homes the same regardless of the neighborhoods they were in. In not maintaining and marketing homes in minority neighborhoods, Romer-Friedman said Bank of America “robs communities of color of wealth, ” and drives down the property values.
The investigation revealed that the bank-owned homes in minority areas were poorly maintained and had trash in the yards, overgrown grass and broken gutters while the homes in White neighborhoods were better maintained. The homes in White areas were also more likely to be marketed better with better signs than in Black and Latino areas.
A statement by Bank of America Home Loans said,
“While we share NFHA’s concern about neighborhoods, we strongly deny their allegations and stand behind our property maintenance and marketing practices. Bank of America is committed to stabilizing and revitalizing communities that have been impacted by the economic downturn, foreclosures and property abandonment. We actively address the needs of such communities through existing programs, partnerships with non profits and governments and continued investment in innovative programs.”
The investigation included homes in Grand Rapids, Atlanta; Dallas; Dayton, Ohio; Miami; Oakland, Calif.; Phoenix and Washington, D.C.