* Maintenance of foreclosed properties at issue
* HUD complaint amended to include Midwest cities
* Bank of America denies allegations
By Aruna Viswanatha
WASHINGTON, Oct 23 A nonprofit group has accused
Bank of America Corp of maintaining foreclosed homes in
white neighborhoods in the U.S. Midwest much better than those
it owns in nearby black and Latino neighborhoods, and of
marketing the homes in white neighbhorhoods more effectively.
The National Fair Housing Alliance filed the accusations
with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on
Tuesday. They come after NHFA filed similar accusations last
month against Bank of America, which alleged disparities in the
maintenance and marketing of foreclosed homes in California,
Michigan, and along the East Coast.
The new details potentially increase pressure on the
second-largest U.S. bank as HUD investigates the charges.
In the complaint filed on Tuesday, the group said it
investigated around 110 additional properties in Chicago,
Milwaukee and Indianapolis, and systematically found more
damaged windows, overgrown lawns, and substantial amounts of
trash on foreclosed properties in minority neighborhoods than in
nearby white neighborhoods.
In September, the group filed its original complaint and
said it had reviewed 373 properties owned, managed or serviced
by Bank of America in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates.
Earlier in October, it amended the allegations to include
issues the group said it found with homes in Orlando, Florida,
and Charleston, South Carolina.
A Bank of America spokesman referred to the bank's statement
from last month, saying it shares the group's concerns about
neighborhoods but that it strongly denies the allegations and
stands behind its property maintenance and marketing practices.
A HUD spokeswoman said the agency will continue to
investigate the allegations.
The new allegations add to a growing number of complaints
filed against big banks over charges of discrimination. NFHA
previously filed similar complaints against Wells Fargo & Co
and U.S. Bancorp.
The group has said it held discussions with Wells and U.S
Bancorp, and has not filed new accusations against either bank.
The American Civil Liberties Union last week sued Morgan
Stanley in federal court and said the bank encouraged a
unit of now-bankrupt New Century Financial Corp to target black
borrowers disproportionately with overpriced loans that had a
strong possibility of going sour.
In July, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $175 million to settle
allegations that it discriminated against black and Latino
borrowers, though it denied the claims.