On June 6, 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., will invest $39 million in 45 communities across the country to settle a fair housing complaint over how it maintained Real Estate Owned (REO) property in a number of communities across the country. REO property is property that a bank or other lender purchases after foreclosure. The complaint alleged that Wells Fargo maintained and marketed REO properties “in a state of disrepair in predominantly African-American, Latino, and other non-White communities” compared to REO properties in predominantly White communities, which were “in a materially better condition.”
The money Wells Fargo has committed to invest is intended to help improve housing in minority neighborhoods that have been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis and will support homeownership, neighborhood stabilization, property rehabilitation and housing development.
This is the first-ever agreement regarding the equal maintenance and marketing of REO homes. The agreement is the result of a federal housing discrimination complaint filed in April 2012 with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The complaint alleged that Wells Fargo’s REO properties in white areas were much better maintained and marketed by Wells Fargo than REO properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. In addition to the $27 million to promote homeownership, Wells Fargo will pay $3 million to NFHA and the 13 fair housing organizations for costs and damages, including diversion of resources incurred in connection with the investigations, and attorney fees. Wells Fargo is also committing $300,000 for the two national conferences and $250,000 to NFHA and local fair housing centers to hold seminars and address delinquencies and foreclosures.
The parties to the agreement with Wells Fargo are: Denver Metro Fair Housing Center, Denver, CO; Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Indianapolis, IN; Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, Grand Rapids, MI; Fair Housing Continuum, Inc., Melbourne, FL; Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, New Orleans, LA; HOPE Fair Housing Center, West Chicago, IL; Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence, Inc., Miami, FL; Metro Fair Housing Services, Inc., Atlanta, GA; Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, Milwaukee, WI; Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Dayton, OH; North Texas Fair Housing Center, Dallas, TX; South Suburban Housing Center, Homewood, IL; and Toledo Fair Housing Center, Toledo, OH.
To read the full conciliation agreement, click here.
To read NFHA’s fair housing complaint, click here.
To read HUD’s press release about the settlement, click here.