Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bank of America faces continued discriminatory allegations, this time in Atlanta

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Bank of America is feeling the heat once again for engaging in discriminatory practices against minorities — reportedly now in the Atlanta area.

Local non-profit organization Metro Fair Housing Services, alongside the National Fair Housing Alliance, has filed a complaint against Bank of America after the corporation allegedly failed to maintain their distressed properties in several minority neighborhoods across the country. The groups claims that because of the bank's inaction — which has affected parts of Atlanta, Miami, Phoenix, Oakland, Washington D.C., and numerous other communities — they should be held responsible for their part in sustaining what they believe to be a form of racial segregation.

Metro Fair Housing Services Executive Director Gail Williams released a statement about the claim this week, saying:

The way Bank of America has treated its homes in Atlanta’s communities of color has led to depressed housing values and loss of wealth for the residents and the city. That's money that could have been used to support public services like roads and police or for families to use toward their children’s education. Bank of America has done a huge disservice to Atlanta and it's time for some accountability.

According to both organizations, Bank of America's real-estate-owned (REO) properties in black communities has had far more maintenance and marketing issues than compared with their properties in white neighborhoods. In response, the corporation issued their own statement yesterday:

While we share NFHA’s concern about neighborhoods, we strongly deny their allegations and stand behind our 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. We actively address the needs of such communities through existing programs, partnerships with non profits and governments and continued investment in innovative programs.

This isn't the first time that the corporation has found itself in trouble over controversial practices. In Dec. 2011, the U.S. Justice Department ordered Bank of America to pay $335 million on behalf of Countrywide Mortgage — a mortgage lender that the bank purchased in 2008. The settlement came on the heels of an investigation over the company's racially biased practices.

"These allegations represent alarming conduct by one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country during the height of the housing market boom," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said during a press conference regarding Bank of America's settlement last December.

This week's NFHA discrimination complaint is the third against a financial corporation this year. The two others — against Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp — are both still pending.

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