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Today, The Fair Housing Center joined the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 18 other fair housing organizations to file a housing discrimination lawsuit against Deutsche Bank, Ocwen Financial, and Altisource for neglecting foreclosed homes in communities of color in 30 metropolitan areas across the United States, including Toledo. The lawsuit filed in federal district court in Chicago, IL accuses Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bank National Trust, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, Ocwen Financial Corp., and Altisource Portfolio Solutions, Inc. of failing to provide required routine maintenance on bank-owned homes in middle- and working-class African American and Latino neighborhoods, while consistently providing routine maintenance on similar bank-owned homes in white neighborhoods. Evidence includes 30,000 photographs that reveal a stark pattern of discriminatory conduct.

“We can’t build a strong, vibrant community unless we invest in our neighborhoods—all of our neighborhoods,” commented Michael Marsh, President and CEO of The Fair Housing Center. “By failing to perform basic tasks like mowing the lawn or fixing broken windows, Deutsche, Ocwen, and Altisource are directly contributing to the blight and instability in our neighborhoods of color. When we hold banks accountable for the role they play, we are ensuring more people can find a safe, stable place to call home.”

The poor appearance of Deutsche bank-owned homes in middle- and working-class neighborhoods of color destroys the homes’ curb appeal for prospective homebuyers and invites vandalism because the homes appear to be abandoned. Additionally, the blight created by Deutsche Bank/Ocwen/Altisource results in a decline in home values for African American and Latino families who live next door or nearby, deepening the racial wealth gap and inequality in America.

The lawsuit asserts that Deutsche Bank’s properties in predominantly white working- and middle-class neighborhoods are far more likely to have the lawns mowed and edged regularly, invasive weeds and vines removed, windows and doors secured or repaired, litter and trash removed, leaves raked, and graffiti erased from the property. “No one is asking for special treatment of these bank-owned homes; we simply ask that these companies provide the same standard of care for all bank-owned homes, regardless of the racial or ethnic composition of the neighborhood in which they are located,” said Shanna Smith, President and CEO of NFHA.

The lawsuit is the result of a multi-year investigation undertaken by NFHA and its fair housing agency partners beginning in 2010. Initially, administrative complaints were filed with HUD, offering Deutsche the opportunity to review the evidence and implement changes to their maintenance practices. However, even after bringing these disparities to light, Deutsche continuously failed to secure, maintain, and market its bank-owned homes in communities of color, compelling the fair housing partners to escalate the complaint to a lawsuit.

View photos of the neglected properties in Toledo.

Highlights of Significant Racial Disparities in Toledo

Between 2012 and 2017, The Fair Housing Center investigated 27 Deutsche Bank foreclosures in African American, Latino, and White neighborhoods in metro Toledo.

  • 45.5% of the Deutsche Bank homes in African American neighborhoods had unsecured or broken doors, while only 18.8% in predominantly white neighborhoods had the same problem.
  • 45.5% of the Deutsche Bank homes in African American neighborhoods had damaged steps or handrails, while none of the Deutsche properties in white neighborhoods had the same problem.
  • 72.7% of the Deutsche homes in African American neighborhoods had broken or boarded windows, while only 31.3% of the Deutsche properties in white neighborhoods had the same problem.
  • 63.6% of the Deutsche Bank homes in African American neighborhoods had overgrown or dead shrubbery, while only 31.3% of Deutsche properties in predominantly White neighborhoods had the same problem.

Below is a list of the 30 metro areas involved in the investigation:

Baltimore, MD
Baton Rouge, LA
Chicago, IL
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas, TX
Dayton, OH
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI (suburban communities)
Gary, IN
Grand Rapids, MI
Greater Palm Beaches, FL
Hampton Roads, VA
Hartford, CT
Indianapolis, IN
Kansas City, MO
Memphis, TN
Miami, FL
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis, MN
Muskegon, MI
New Orleans, LA
Orlando, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Prince George’s Cty, MD/Washington, D.C.
Providence, RI
Richmond, VA
Tampa, FL
Toledo, OH
Vallejo, CA

Detailed statistics and photos are available at www.nationalfairhousing.org.

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