Housing Group Files Bias Complaint Against Wells Fargo
A nonprofit group on Tuesday filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. government accusing Wells Fargo & Co. of a failure to maintain foreclosed homes in minority neighborhoods compared with those vacant properties it owns in white areas.
The complaint was filed by the National Fair Housing Alliance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“We found that with Wells Fargo, there was a neglect of simple things — a lack of routine maintenance and security of the property — that just didn’t happen in African American and Latino neighborhoods across the board,” said Shanna Smith, president of the National Fair Housing Alliance.
The complaint stemmed from years of investigations by the group, which advocates for minorities on housing issues, into how major lenders maintain and market bank-owned properties in various real estate markets across the nation.
In its complaint filed with HUD, the group said that in an independent investigation it completed on foreclosed properties owned by Wells Fargo, disparities existed in the maintenance and marketing of vacant homes for sale in minority neighborhoods compared with those homes in white neighborhoods.
A spokesperson for HUD declined to provide any comment on the group’s complaint.
Tom Goyda, a Wells Fargo spokesman, said in a statement that the institution “conducts all lending-related activities in a fair and consistent manner without regard to race, and this includes maintenance and marketing standards for all foreclosed properties.”
“Regrettably, the complaint does not include specific property information that can allow us to investigate the circumstances in any of the markets they list,” he said.
Wells Fargo said that when it is responsible for a property it has a department that conducts monthly inspections, completes maintenance work and secures and winterizes homes. In other instances, the bank may service the loans, but the investors who own the mortgages handle the maintenance and sale of their properties after foreclosure.