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The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and four of its member organizations announced a federal housing discrimination complaint against Wells Fargo & Co.

The complaint is the result of an undercover investigation of Wells Fargos bank-owned properties that found foreclosed properties in White areas are much better maintained and marketed by Wells Fargo than such properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods.

The investigation of 218 foreclosed properties owned by Wells Fargo demonstrates that Wells Fargo has engaged in a systemic 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 predominantly White communities in a far superior manner, according to the claim.

The investigation evaluated REO properties in the eight metropolitan areas including Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Dallas, TX; Dayton, OH; Miami/Fort Lauderdale, FL; Oakland/Richmond/Concord, CA; Philadelphia, PA; and, Washington, DC.

Nationally, and in each of the eight metropolitan areas, Wells Fargos REO properties in communities of color were far more likely to have several deficiencies in maintenance or marketing than REO properties in predominantly White communities.

Without a for sale sign, for example, potential homebuyers would simply not know the property is available.

Almost twice as many for sale signs were found in White communities than in communities of color in Philadelphia, PA and Oakland, CA. In Washington, DC, there were four times as many for sale signs in White neighborhoods than in neighborhoods of color. There were no for sale signs at 90 percent of Wells Fargo properties in Dayton, OHs communities of color.

Investigators found that properties located in minority neighborhoods had almost twice as much trash as those in White communities.

Wells Fargos disregard for homes in communities of color has severely damaged these communities, said Shanna L. Smith, NFHA President and CEO. The company has also hindered this nations efforts to promote fair housing and is in clear violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Researchers evaluated the maintenance and marketing of REO properties for the existence of 39 different types of maintenance or marketing deficiencies, such as broken windows and doors, water damage, overgrown lawns, no for sale sign, trash on the property, and other deficits.

Next week, NFHA will announce another complaint that it will file against another major bank.

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