The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and four of its local member organizations have released a report that accuses the nation's financial institutions of failing to maintain and market real estate owned (REO) properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods.
The report, titled ‘The Banks Are Back, Our Neighborhoods Are Not: Discrimination in the Maintenance and Marketing of REO Properties,’ focuses on more than 1,000 REO properties located in and around nine major metropolitan markets: Atlanta; Baltimore; Dallas; Dayton, Ohio; Miami/Fort Lauderdale; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and Washington, D.C. According to the NFHA, its research evaluated ’39 different aspects of the maintenance and marketing of each property.’
The report determined that REO properties in predominantly minority communities were 42% more likely to have more than 15 maintenance problems than properties in predominantly white neighborhoods. REO properties in predominantly minority neighborhoods were more likely to have broken or boarded windows, while predominantly white neighborhoods were more likely to be ‘marketed with the proper signage,’ according to the NFHA.
‘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,’ says Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO of the NFHA. ‘This is an investigation – not a study – that will culminate in the filing of administrative complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and/or lawsuits in federal district court. The first complaint will be filed shortly. We hope that banks will heed the information in this report and take immediate action to correct the disparate treatment we have found.’
The full report is available on the NFHA website.