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U.S. Bank Accused of Housing Discrimination

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and four of its member organizations announced new evidence of housing discrimination by U.S. Bank, N.A. The civil rights groups allege that U.S. Bank maintains and markets foreclosed homes in white neighborhoods, in "a much better manner than in African-American and Latino neighborhoods," according to a press release issued by the NFHA.

The Federal Housing Act prohibits banks from failing to maintain and market homes because of the racial or ethnic composition of neighborhoods.

"U.S. Bank ought to be concerned that it is contributing to blight and creating health and safety risks in communities of color," said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. "Instead, U.S. Bank turns a blind eye to its responsibility to the neighborhoods and local governments that are losing millions of dollars as property values decline because of the Bank's poorly maintained and marketed REOs."

The NFHA had previously filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and recently added four new cities: Dallas, Texas; Hampton Road, Virginia; New Haven, Connecticut; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

The four member organizations that filed the complaint in conjunction with NFHA are the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Inc., Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc., and the North Texas Fair Housing Center.

The complaint brings the total to 35 cities in 15 metropolitan areas, "where U.S. Bank is alleged to have discriminated in the maintenance and marketing of its bank-owned homes and homes for which it is the owner of record as the trustee," the release said.

The addition of 79 new properties brings the total number of properties to 352.

Conditions at the REO-owned properties were sub-par. A majority of the properties investigated had unsecured doors, overgrown grass, and missing “for sale” signs.

The report commented, "In New Haven, 89 percent of U.S. Bank REO properties in the communities of color inspected had substantial amounts of trash, as did 84 percent in New Orleans, 78 percent in Dallas, and 67 percent in Hampton Roads, Va."

"These banks are discriminating in many of the same neighborhoods of color. They are compounding the damage and blight to these communities already caused by the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, and making it even harder for these neighborhoods to bounce back," Smith said.

About Author: Colin Robins

Colin Robins is the online editor for DSNews.com. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts from the University of Texas, Dallas. Additionally, he contributes to the MReport, DS News' sister site.

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