Fair Housing Orgs. Expand Foreclosure Complaint In Indy, Gary

Jul 27, 2017

A national fair housing group says Deutsche Bank and two other businesses are less likely to maintain foreclosed, bank-owned homes in majority-black areas of 30 cities, including Indianapolis and Gary.

A new version of a federal complaint, out this week, expands the investigation.

The National Fair Housing Alliance and 19 local organizations first filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development against Deutsche Bank in 2014.

Now, they’re also naming the bank’s property maintenance companies, Ocwen Financial and Altisource.

The complaint says these companies are more likely to let empty, bank-owned homes become blighted or derelict in mostly-black neighborhoods than in mostly-white ones. And it says they aren’t trying as hard to sell those homes.

The complaint includes analysis of 22 properties in Gary, and 18 in Indianapolis, where Amy Nelson is executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. She says once the bank takes back a house, it’s required to keep it up to code.

“To the homeowner who lives nearby or next door to a vacant home that’s not being properly maintained, it can be extremely significant,” Nelson says. “Their property values have been shown to be impacted, and that is by that homeowner doing nothing wrong.”

She hopes the allegations will prompt Deutsche Bank to change its practices. South Suburban Housing Center in Homewood, Illinois, was the group investigating the Gary properties.

The complaint is similar to ones filed against Bank of America, Wells Fargo and others in the wake of the housing crisis.

UPDATE: Ocwen spokesperson John Lovallo said in an emailed statement Monday his company denies the NFHA allegations and believes “they lack credible evidence.” 

“Ocwen cares about communities, and is committed to equal maintenance and marketing of bank-owned homes no matter where they are located in the U.S.,” Lovallo wrote. “We believe we have in place the necessary quality control standards designed to ensure that all properties are handled consistently regardless of their location.