Civil Rights Organizations Accuse Deutsche Bank, Ocwen Financial, and Altisource of Housing Discrimination in 30 Metropolitan Areas
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) announced that it has found substantial new evidence in support of allegations that Deutsche Bank, Ocwen Financial, and Altisource continue to discriminate against communities of color in 30 metropolitan areas throughout the United States. NFHA has filed an amended administrative complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). NFHA alleges that Deutsche Bank AG, Deutsche Bank National Trust, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, Ocwen Financial Corporation, and Altisource Portfolio Solutions, Inc. fail to provide required routine maintenance on bank-owned homes in middle- and working-class African American and Latino neighborhoods, while Deutsche/Ocwen/Altisource consistently provide routine maintenance on similar bank-owned homes in white neighborhoods.
NFHA filed its original complaint against Deutsche Bank, et al. on February 26, 2014. This complaint adds Ocwen and Altisource as respondents in the 30 metropolitan areas. Deutsche Bank contracts with Ocwen and Altisource to provide preservation maintenance and marketing for the overwhelming majority of properties for which the Bank is listed as owner of record.
Nineteen fair housing organizations joined NFHA in filing this administrative complaint. The evidence presented in this complaint includes approximately 30,000 photographs of Deutsche Bank-owned homes in communities of color and predominantly white neighborhoods in 30 metropolitan areas. This substantial photographic evidence shows a stark pattern of discriminatory conduct in the maintenance of bank-owned homes in communities of color. The amended administrative complaint brings to 1,100 the number of Deutsche-owned homes investigated by NFHA and its partners.
NFHA 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. “Yet, Deutsche Bank-owned homes in predominantly middle- and working-class African American and Latino neighborhoods are more likely to be left neglected with debris and trash on the property, wildly overgrown grass, and invasive plants covering the yards. Windows and doors are often unsecured, left wide open, or boarded, and graffiti as well as dead animals are left on the premises,” said Shanna Smith, President and CEO of NFHA.
Windows, doors, and holes left open, unsecured, or broken at vacant bank-owned properties allow for water to accumulate and stagnate. As a result, Deutsche Bank’s poorly maintained homes serve as the perfect environment for mold and discoloration to develop. In fact, a recent study conducted by Midwest Aerobiology Labs found 36 molds specific to foreclosed homes and also concluded that 88 percent of foreclosed homes contained a dangerous mold capable of causing childhood asthma and other diseases in humans.
This isn’t a new problem for Deutsche Bank. In June 2013, Deutsche Bank settled a lawsuit with the City of Los Angeles for $10 million after it was accused of allowing hundreds of bank-owned properties to fall into slum conditions, leading to the destabilization of communities.
Map and local examples of affected communities: http://nationalfairhousing.org/community-map
Photos of Deutsche Bank-owned properties: http://nationalfairhousing.org/deutsche-property-photos/