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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -
Toledo is joining a complaint against Bank of America, claiming the bank discriminated against tenants on the basis of race.
On Thursday, the National Fair Housing Alliance, along with five of its member organizations, held a news conference to announce the addition of new cities and evidence to its federal housing complaint against Bank of America. The complaint alleges discriminatory treatment in the maintenance and marketing of bank-owned homes in minority communities.
The original complaint, filed on Sept. 25, 2012, will be amended again and filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. NFHA's ongoing investigation of bank-owned homes includes 32 cities nationwide.
For example, Bank of America is listed as the title holder for a house on Oakdale Avenue in east Toledo. While the grass is cut, there is no "for sale" sign posted, and the roof appears to be in need of repairs.
The president of the Toledo Fair Housing Center says neighborhood revival is on the line.
"The banks played a role in the foreclosure debacle. We feel they should be playing a role in cleaning up the problem," said Michael Marsh. "In order to restore neighborhoods with a large volume of REO properties, families and individual owner occupants interested in buying the properties should have first opportunity to view and purchase those homes."
Baltimore, Chicago, Grand Rapids and Milwaukee have joined Toledo in the complaint.
Bank of America released the following statement on the matter:
• Bank of America applies uniform practices to the management and marketing of vacant bank-owned properties across the US, regardless of their location. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue;
• Bank of America is committed to ensuring bank-owned properties are maintained in a quality manner, and to supporting the stabilization and revitalization of our neighborhoods;
• It is in the best interest of the bank, investor and community for the property to be marketed and sold to new homeowners;
• We have worked hard to transition properties to new owners and our Real Estate Owned (REO) inventory has dropped by almost 70 percent in the past year;
• About half of the properties NFHA has identified in amended complaints fault the bank, but were actually the responsibility of other entities to maintain and/or market;
• NFHA expressly declined to consider properties under repair and faulted the bank for properties it had agreed to donate to local groups in their existing condition;
• NFHA's methodology doesn't take into account the condition of the property when it came into our possession or if the bank had the legal authority to enter the property.
Toledo, Ohio Specific Information:
• The Toledo property listed in NFHA's complaint is not serviced or owned by Bank of America. It hasn't been serviced by the bank since early 2013.
• Bank of America currently has 17 properties in Toledo in our REO process, about half of them are currently under contract to be sold to third parties.
• Bank of America has donated 380 vacant properties in Ohio (24 in Toledo) to organizations that help stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods, meet community needs for affordable or emergency housing, and support those who serve our communities and country as servicemembers and first responders.