A nonprofit group that supports fair housing has filed a lawsuit claiming that Bank of America, the nation’s second largest mortgage servicer, has failed to maintain and market foreclosed homes in African American and Latino neighborhoods the same way it does in white neighborhoods.
The National Fair Housing Alliance filed the complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development after examining Bank of America-owned properties in eight American cities and finding “significant racial disparities” in how the properties were maintained and marketed to potential buyers, Reuters reports:
The group reviewed 373 properties owned, managed or serviced by Bank of America in eight U.S. cities as part of its ongoing examination of how U.S. lenders maintain bank-owned properties. Investigators evaluated properties for problems such as broken windows, overgrown lawns, trash accumulation and a lack of “for sale” signs.
“We have found significant racial disparities,” Shanna Smith, chief executive officer of the National Fair Housing Alliance in a conference call with reporters.
NFHA filed similar complaints against Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage servicer, and U.S. Bancorp earlier this year after it released a report detailing the disparities between white and black and Latino neighborhoods. The report looked at bank-owned homes in nine cities and found that properties in black and Latino neighborhoods were more likely to be left in disrepair than homes in white neighborhoods, driving down home prices, increasing vagrancy and crime rates, and making it harder to sell homes in those neighborhoods.
Discrimination was widespread throughout the mortgage and foreclosure process leading up to and after the housing crisis. Black and Latino borroweres were twice as likely to have been affected by the crisis because banks that used predatory practices against borrowers were even more predatory toward minorities. Pushing qualified lenders into subprime loans cost minorities as much as $100,000 in additional interest payments.