On September 25, 2012, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and five of its member organizations announced that they had filed a federal housing discrimination complaint against Bank of America Corporation, Bank of America, N.A., and BAC Home Loan Servicing, LP. The complaint, which was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), alleges that Bank of America maintains and markets foreclosed homes in white neighborhoods in a much better manner than in African-American and Latino neighborhoods.
According to the press release announcing the filing:
Bank of America is one of the largest American banks that maintains and sells foreclosed properties and is one of the world’s largest financial institutions. The investigation of 373 foreclosed homes owned, serviced or managed by Bank of America demonstrates that the financial giant has engaged in a systemic practice of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed, bank-owned properties (also known as Real Estate Owned or REO properties) in a state of disrepair in communities of color while maintaining and marketing REO properties in predominantly White communities in a far superior manner. The investigation evaluated Bank of America REO properties in the eight metropolitan areas of Atlanta, GA; Dallas, TX; Dayton, OH; Grand Rapids, MI; Miami/Fort Lauderdale, FL; Oakland/Richmond/Concord, CA; Phoenix, AZ, and metropolitan Washington, DC.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status, including based on the race or national origin of residents of a neighborhood. This law applies to housing and housing-related activities, which include the maintenance, appraisal, listing, marketing and selling of homes.
The complaint was filed by NFHA, the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center in Dayton, OH; Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence, Inc. in Miami, FL; Metro Fair Housing Services in Atlanta, GA; the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, MI and the North Texas Fair Housing Center in Dallas, TX. NFHA and the other complainant organizations are represented by Joseph M. Sellers and Peter Romer-Friedman of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
In April 2012, NFHA issued a report on the findings of its nationwide REO investigation of 1,000 REO homes nationwide, The Banks are Back, Our Neighborhoods are Not: Discrimination and Marketing of REO Properties. NFHA filed HUD administrative complaints against Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp in April 2012.
To read NFHA’s press release announcing the filing of the complaint, click here.