Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Civil Rights Organizations Uncover Discrimination by Banks in Treatment of Foreclosed Properties

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and four of its local member organizations announced the results of an undercover investigation into the ways the nation's financial institutions are failing to maintain and market Real Estate Owned (REO) properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. The investigation of REO properties in nine major U.S. cities found striking incidents of discrimination in the care and maintenance of properties, with foreclosed properties in White areas being much better maintained and marketed than those in neighborhoods of color.

A report of the investigation, "The Banks Are Back, Our Neighborhoods Are Not: Discrimination in the Maintenance and Marketing of REO Properties," was released today. It details the results of the evaluation of more than 1,000 REO properties located in and around Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Dallas, TX; Dayton, OH; Miami/Fort Lauderdale, FL; Oakland/Richmond/Concord, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; and Washington, DC.

"This report offers evidence that banks responsible for peddling unsustainable loans to communities of color and triggering our current foreclosure crisis are continuing to damage those communities by failing to properly maintain and market the properties they own," said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance.

"This is an investigation – not a study –- that will culminate in the filing of administrative complaints with HUD and/or lawsuits in federal district court," continued Smith. "The first complaint will be filed shortly."

The National Fair Housing Alliance in Washington, D.C., and four of its member organizations – the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center in Dayton, OH; Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence in Miami, FL; Metro Fair Housing Services in Atlanta, GA; and North Texas Fair Housing Center in Dallas, TX – evaluated the maintenance and marketing of REO properties on a 100-point scale, subtracting points for broken windows and doors, water damage, overgrown lawns, no "for sale" sign, trash on the property, and other deficits.

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