Bank of America allows foreclosed houses in black and Hispanic neighborhoods to fall into disrepair even as it studiously maintains bank-owned homes in white areas, housing activists allege.
The nonprofit National Fair Housing Alliance on Tuesday filed suit accusing one of the nation’s largest financial institutions of “systematic” discrimination. The Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches is among the 20-plus plaintiffs in the federal suit.
“Across the board, properties located in communities of color were much more likely to have numerous objective routine maintenance and marketing deficiencies than the Bank of America-owned homes located in white areas,” the suit says.
The Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches photographed foreclosed properties held by Bank of America and found striking differences. A West Palm Beach house in a non-white neighborhood sported torn screens, a blue tarp of the roof and green pool water. A suburban Boynton Beach home in a mostly white neighborhood, by contrast, looked pristine.
Bank of America disputed the activists’ allegations.
“The allegations are without merit,” the company said in a statement. “We apply uniform practices to the management and marketing of vacant bank-owned properties across the U.S., regardless of their location.”
In February, a group of nonprofits headed by the National Fair Housing Alliance lodged a similar suit against lender Deutsche Bank and loan servicer Ocwen Financial.
In the latest suit, fair housing activists said they visited nearly 1,700 Bank of America properties nationwide and took more than 35,000 photographs documenting the condition of the homes.
Tribune Content Agency