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Group alleges racial disparities in Bank of America practices at foreclosed Baltimore homes

A vacant Baltimore home owned by Bank of America receives better upkeep if it is located in a largely white neighborhood, a discriminatory practice that hurts minority areas, the National Fair Housing Alliance alleged in a complaint filed Thursday.

The complaint argues that there are "stark racial disparities" in Bank of America marketing or maintenance practices in 20 metropolitan areas, a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Baltimore was one of five cities added Thursday to the complaint, first filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2012.

Bank of America officials have repeatedly maintained that the corporation operates with a uniform maintenance policy and argued that the alliance fails to take into account factors such as the property's condition when the bank took possession of it. Bank of America did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

In the Baltimore area, the alliance investigated 29 Bank of America properties, looking at issues such as broken locks, doors, or windows; significant amounts of trash; and lack of for-sale signs. In minority areas, 90 percent of the foreclosed homes had five or more problems and 48 percent had 10 or more problems.

Of the 29 homes, eight were in majority-white neighborhoods. Those homes were three times as likely as homes in minority neighborhoods to have fewer than five problems, according to the complaint.

The complaint says the practice has occurred since "at least 2011."

The National Fair Housing Alliance is a D.C.-based consortium of more than 220 housing non-profits. Five other organizations participated in the investigations.

Read the full complaint here: http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/Portals/33/amendcomplaint4.pdf

There's a map of the Baltimore-area properties NFHA investigated here (scroll down): http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/Portals/33/amendcomplaint4exb.pdf

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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