Foreclosed homes in predominately white neighborhoods are more likely to be maintained by the banks that own them than homes in predominately African-American and Latino communities, according to a report released by the National Fair Housing Alliance. Failure to keep up foreclosed homes can drive down home prices, lead to higher crime and vagrancy rates, and make it harder for the homes to be sold, and those conditions are much more likely in minority neighborhoods in the nine cities the NFHA investigated, the Washington Post reports:
They found that properties in predominately black and Latino neighborhoods were far more likely than those in predominately white areas to be left in disrepair, with maintenance problems such as broken or boarded-up windows, unkempt yards, water damage and unsecured entrances. In addition, foreclosed properties in minority neighborhoods were routinely less likely to have for-sale signs than those in white communities.
“The inferior way in which banks maintain and market their REO properties in communities of color actually changes the character of and serves to degrade the quality of life in these neighborhoods,” said the report by NFHA, a consortium of groups from across the country dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination.
The report is the latest sign of discrimination on the part of big banks when it comes to America’s housing market. Earlier reports found that blacks and Latinos were twice as likely to have been affected by the housing crisis, largely because an industry that has become infamous for its predatory lending practices was even more predatory when dealing with black and Latino borrowers. Banks and lenders often pushed minority borrowers into subprime loans even when they qualified for prime loans, adding as much as $100,000 in interest payments over the life of the loan.
The NFHA did not name the banks that owned the properties it investigated, but it does plan to file administrative complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development soon.