DC Think Tank Study Shows Bank Discrimination in Maintenance of Foreclosed Properties

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) in Washington, DC and its member organizations in Dayton, Ohio, Hartford, Connecticut and Richmond, Virginia, released the findings of a year-long study in the methods that banks secure, maintain and market their foreclosed properties. The results showed that banks take greater care to maintain and secure their properties in white neighborhoods more than they do in African-American neighborhoods.

The investigation examined 624 banks in DC’s Maryland suburbs, Dayton, Ohio, New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut and Richmond, Virginia. Bank-owned properties in white neighborhoods had well-maintained lawns, secured entrances and an overall nice appearance. The properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods had cracked foundations, leaky roofs and “warning” signs in the front.

The NHFA says that banks have a fiduciary duty to their investors to secure a fair price for the homes, as well as an obligation to the neighborhoods to maintain the bank-owned homes.

An NFHA spokesperson says that when banks fail to maintain their properties in minority neighborhoods, they are undervaluing those properties and stalling economic recovery in neighborhoods of color. The spokesperson went on to say this is a violation of the Fair Housing Act, which applies to housing and housing-related activities, including the maintenance, appraisal, listing, marketing and selling of homes.

Homeowners fall into foreclosure for various reasons. Contact a Washington DC bankruptcy lawyer for answers to your foreclosure questions. An experienced Washington DC bankruptcy attorney can tell you if a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you.

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