Not all foreclosures are equal

by 23 Apr 2012

(Washington Post) -- We know from numerous reports that the housing crisis hit minority families pretty hard. Minority homebuyers by the tens of thousands were trapped in predatory mortgage loans and, as a result, their communities disproportionately felt the impact of foreclosures.

Now fair-housing organizations have filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging discrimination in the marketing and maintenance of foreclosed properties in minority neighborhoods in nine major cities. The banks targeted by the National Fair Housing Alliance and four of its member organizations are U.S. Bank and its parent company, U.S. Bancorp, along with Wells Fargo.

The complaints were the result of an investigation in which the housing groups said foreclosed properties in predominantly white areas were much better maintained than properties in predominantly African American or Latino neighborhoods. The groups examined more than 1,000 properties in Georgia, Maryland, Texas, Ohio, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Washington.

U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo have denied discrimination and questioned whether the properties that got failing marks were even their responsibility to maintain.

“In the vast majority of cases where U.S. Bank is involved in a foreclosure, we serve as a trustee for an investment pool where the former mortgage was held, and have no role in servicing or maintaining the property,” Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, vice president of corporate public relations, said in a statement. “When we do own a property, we have a strong and comprehensive process in place to regularly inspect and maintain properties to marketing standards where we have legal access, regardless of their location.”

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