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Groups expand BofA housing complaint

A coalition of fair housing groups has expanded its complaint about Bank of America’s management and marketing of bank-owned homes, adding more cities to the list and making fresh claims about other cities.

The groups filed a federal complaint against the Charlotte-based bank a year ago Wednesday. In the initial complaint, which focused on eight metro areas, the groups said the bank had done a better job of maintaining and advertising bank-owned homes in white neighborhoods than nonwhite neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, the National Fair Housing Alliance and four of its member organizations said they had amended the complaint to add five cities: Denver; Las Vegas; Memphis, Tenn.; Philadelphia; and Tucson, Ariz.

It’s not the first time the groups have added cities to their complaint. Wednesday’s additions bring to 18 the number of metro areas in which the groups say they’ve uncovered the alleged discriminatory practices. Charlotte is not among them.

The groups also said Wednesday that they have found fresh evidence of discrimination in four metro areas mentioned in their original complaint: Atlanta; Dayton, Ohio; Miami; and Washington, D.C.

Dan Frahm, Bank of America spokesman, denied the groups’ allegations. The bank uses “uniform practices” in management and marketing of bank-owned properties, regardless of location, he said.

Frahm said the bank is looking at the homes the groups have taken issue with to find out whether it has responsibility for them. He also said that when the groups first made their claims last year, there were “numerous” flaws in their methodology. For example, he said, a majority of the properties cited a year ago “were the responsibility of other entities to maintain and market, not Bank of America.”

The complaint, which is not a lawsuit, is filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It alleges violations of the federal Fair Housing Act.

Last year, the alliance filed complaints against the Charlotte-based bank and two other lenders, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo and Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp.

In June, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $30 million to the alliance and 13 fair housing groups and $11.5 million to HUD.

U.S. Bancorp spokeswoman Nicole Garrison-Sprenger said in an email that the “vast majority” of the properties the alliance has called attention to are not serviced by the company, the parent of U.S. Bank.

Rather, she said, U.S. Bank is a trustee for investment pools where securitized mortgages are held. As trustee, the bank is not responsible for maintaining the properties, she said.

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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