AT REAL ESTATE PIPELINE, complaints like the following one leave us shaking our head. Why, we wonder, would a large corporation like Wells Fargo believe in this day and age it can get away with discriminating against a large group of Americans – or how it could still think it is good business practice.
According to a prepared statement by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the alliance filed the complaint this week alleging Wells Fargo maintains and markets foreclosed properties in predominately white areas more aggressively than it does for properties in neighborhoods predominately populated by people of color.
The complaint was filed after an undercover investigation of 218 foreclosed properties owned by Wells Fargo. According to the complaint, “Wells Fargo has engaged in a systematic practice of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed, bank-owned properties in a state of disrepair in communities of color while maintaining and marketing REO properties in predominately white communities in a far superior manner.”
Along with other discrepancies, For Sale signs were found on properties in White neighborhoods but were oftentimes absent in neighborhoods of color. And, “Wells Fargo properties in communities of color in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Oakland, Miami, Dallas and Washington D.C. had almost twice as much trash as those in White communities,” the complaint states.
Oops. Not a good way to make friends.
In a prepared statement, Shanna Smith, NFHA president and CEO, said that Wells Fargo’s practices have “severely damaged” communities and “hindered this nation’s efforts to promote fair housing and is in clear violation of the Fair Housing Act.”
However, it appears Wells Fargo may not be the only company committing such sins. NFHA plans to file a similar complaint next week against another major bank.
To see what Wells Fargo had to say about the complaint, I went to its website
and checked for a news release addressing the issue. Nothing has been released.
I also searched Google for comments by a Wells Fargo official. While I found lots of articles about the complaint, none of those I scanned had any comments from Wells Fargo officials.
So, at least as far as this blog goes, Smith has the last word. “We hope that Wells Fargo will take immediate action to correct the stark racial and ethnic disparities we have found in the maintenance and marketing of its foreclosed properties,” she said.