Fair Housing Groups Sue BofA Over Foreclosure Neglect
June 28, 2018
A coalition of fair housing advocates, led by the National Fair Housing Alliance, filed a federal lawsuit against Bank of America and Safeguard Properties Management this week that alleges the firms failed to provide routine exterior maintenance on foreclosed homes in neighborhoods with predominantly African-American and Latino residents.
The NFHA is accusing Bank of America in the lawsuit of neglecting 1,600 homes across 37 U.S. metro areas. The NFHA says it has been investigating the care of properties since June 2009.
In the lawsuit, the NFHA alleges a long list of cases of neglected homes, including dead, rotting animals in yards, uncollected trash and debris, damage to handrails of properties, graffiti, and overgrown grass and weeds. The accusations also included rat infestations and cases of squatters moving into some properties.
The NFHA claims such issues of abandoned and neglected properties were not found when they viewed predominantly white neighborhoods where Bank of America also owned foreclosed homes.
The NFHA alleges in the lawsuit that 45 percent of the properties in communities of color had 10 or more maintenance issues compared to 11 percent in white neighborhoods. The lawsuit includes more than 35,000 photos of the NFHA’s claims.
“Bank of America and Safeguard’s deplorable and intentional inaction left innocent homeowners exposed to numerous health hazards and personal risks,” NFHA president and CEO Lisa Rice said in a statement. “The NFHA and the co-plaintiffs filed this lawsuit to make sure that these discriminatory practices come to an end.”
Bank of America has not commented publicly on the lawsuit. Safeguard officials said it had not been served with the complaint, but issued the following statement in response to the allegations: “Safeguard neither condones nor tolerates acts of discrimination or business practices that would unfairly target or neglect certain neighborhoods based on location and demographics. Safeguard remains disappointed by the National Fair Housing Alliance’s (NFHA) continued attack on Safeguard with ill-conceived and disingenuous allegations of an extremely serious nature, and we will again vigorously defend against any and all of NFHA’s allegations.”
National Fair Housing Alliance and “Housing Advocates Sue Bank of America for Alleged Neglect of Black Neighborhoods,” Curbed.com (June 27, 2018)
Updated: July 18, 2018