DENVER -- The National Fair Housing Alliance along with the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center have accused U.S. Bank of racial discrimination.
The civil rights groups allege that US Bank fails to maintain and market bank-owned foreclosures in African American and Latino neighborhoods to the same standard as in White neighborhoods, a practice that violates the federal Fair Housing Act.
FOX31 visited a US Bank foreclosed home in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, where 75 perent of the residents area minorities. The house, located on Randolph Place, has been in foreclosure since last year but there wasn’t even a For Sale sign when we paid a visit. The back door wasn’t locked, the back and front yard were littered with trash and beer cans could be seen left on the floor of the living room, plus one upstairs window had been left wide open.
“You can only imagine if there`s water in there sitting, water damage, mold possibly, so those are some issues we see,” said Arturo Alvarado, Executive Director of Denver Metro Fair Housing Center.
Neighbor Renita Hamilton the home brings down property values for the entire block. “For instance if I want to sell my property I`m going to have a hard time doing it, because of the house down the street because they`re (home buyers) thinking this is a rough neighborhood.”
An investigation by the Fair Housing Alliance found homes foreclosed by US Bank in minority neighborhoods where two to three times more likely to have maintenance issues compared to predominantly White neighborhoods. The organization investigated 19 metro regions, including Denver, Palm Beach and Orlando.
“It`s our contention that his home would sell if it was just marketed properly. Unfortunately, it`s a community of color and it is not selling,” said Alvarado, referring to the home on Randolph Place in Green Valley Ranch.
Alvarado took FOX31 to a formerly foreclosed home in Aurora, where the neighborhood is 65 percent white.
“At this property we found only one deficiency,” said Alvarado. He said the home went into foreclosure in May and was sold by July.
“You maintain a property, market a property, mow the lawns, pick up the trash, do some simple things, the property will sell,” said Alvarado.
In a statement, US Bank rejected accusations of housing discrimination writing in part, “National Fair Housing Alliance has established a pattern of using incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading information in order to generate inflammatory headlines - while at the same time - seeking significant amounts of money from our company behind the scenes."
The National Fair Housing Alliance denied it sought money from US Bank and added it used photos to document what it found and now hopes filing a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development will spark a change.
US Bank said it is cooperating fully with HUD’s investigation. In many cases, the bank says it’s merely the trustee and has no legal right to fix up properties but insists when it can it does, regardless of location.AlertMe