Six of the nation’s largest banks have consistently failed to aggressively market and maintain foreclosed homes in communities of color, according to the results of a nine-month long investigation released Tuesday.
The investigation by the National Fair Housing Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that investigates, tracks and researches housing discrimination, studied the way banks market and maintain vacant foreclosed homes in nine metro areas and found “overwhelming” and “troubling“ evidence that banks consistently market and maintain foreclosed homes in the nation’s predominantly white neighborhoods differently. The findings constitute a violation of federal civil rights law and show that blacks and Latinos are unfairly burdened with one of the worst aspects of the nation’s housing crisis, alliance officials said.
“This is not about income. It is about race. These were consistent patterns in low-income communities, middle-income communities and upper-income neighborhoods,” said Shanna Smith, the alliance’s president and CEO. “And besides that, nobody, regardless of their income, wants to live next door to a property that is filled with trash and overgrown weeds that grow and foster rodents. No one deserves that.”
Investigators from the alliance, which completed its investigation in February, examined conditions at 1,000 bank-owned properties in ZIP codes with elevated foreclosure rates. The homes, often referred to as REO or real estate-owned properties, were ostensibly for sale after a bank reclaimed them in a foreclosure.
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