| Sept 25
Sept 25 A nonprofit group on Tuesday accused
Bank of America Corp of maintaining and marketing
foreclosed homes in white neighborhoods much better than those
it owns in African-American and Latino neighborhoods.
The National Fair Housing Alliance and its member
organizations said they filed a discrimination complaint with
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It lodged
similar complaints in April against Wells Fargo & Co and
The group reviewed 373 properties owned, managed or serviced
by Bank of America in eight U.S. cities as part of its ongoing
examination of how U.S. lenders maintain bank-owned properties.
Investigators evaluated properties for problems such as broken
windows, overgrown lawns, trash accumulation and a lack of "for
"We have found significant racial disparities," Shanna
Smith, chief executive officer of the National Fair Housing
Alliance in a conference call with reporters.
Smith said the group continues to look at other banks but
declined to provide details. The group first alerted Bank of
America, the No. 2 U.S. bank by assets, about the problem in
2009 but has had "unfruitful" discussions about the issue, she
Bank of America denied the group's allegations and stood
behind its property maintenance and marketing practices.
"Bank of America is committed to stabilizing and
revitalizing communities that have been impacted by the economic
downturn, foreclosures and property abandonment," bank spokesman
Dan Frahm said. "We actively address the needs of such
communities through existing programs, partnerships with non
profits and governments and continued investment in innovative
Bank of America became the biggest U.S. mortgage lender in
2008 after buying subprime lender Countrywide Financial. It is
now scaling back the business after taking billions of dollars
of losses on toxic loans.
Smith said HUD is investigating its previous complaints and
that it has had discussions with Wells and U.S. Bancorp. A HUD
spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Wells Fargo has previously said it conducts all
lending-related activities in a fair and consistent matter
without regard to race. U.S. Bancorp has said in the vast
majority of cases where the bank is involved in a foreclosure it
is the trustee for an investment pool of mortgages, not the
servicer responsible for maintaining properties.