The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) filed charges against Deutsche Bank, and several subsidiaries, for discrimination in minority neighborhoods. The suit filed on February 1 in federal court alleges that Deutsche Bank purposely neglected its foreclosed properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods in Dayton and in other communities.
The NFHA based its suit on collected evidentiary photographs, as well as a Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) study of neglected homes in the Dayton area from 2011-2016. The NFHA alleges that Ocwen and Altisource, companies that administer property for Deutsche Bank, have largely abandoned foreclosed homes in minority neighborhoods while providing expected upkeep in predominantly white neighborhoods.
The NFHA report examined 36 foreclosed properties owned by Deutsche Bank in the Dayton area. 21 of these homes are in predominantly white neighborhoods with 15 in African-American areas. The reports note that nearly 75 percent of properties in minority neighborhoods had overgrown grass and dead leaves against just one-third of homes in white communities. 40 percent of properties in neighborhoods of color were strewn with garbage compared to 23.8 percent of white homes. 53 percent of homes in African-American communities had dead or dying trees and shrubs, whereas just 28.6 percent of properties in white communities were in the same condition.
Banks are required to maintain foreclosed properties by mowing lawns, maintaining yards, and performing general upkeep.
A Deutsche Bank representative stated that the bank’s only duty is to hold the property as a trustee. However, a representative from Altisource refuted the charges stating that the MVHFC study had been discredited by a 2016 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) analysis while maintaining that the NFHA’s contentions unfairly characterize Altisource’s record in property preservation.
Dayton is not the only city where such charges have been leveled against Deutsche Bank. The NFHA has sued them for discriminatory practices in 30 other communities across the United States. Nor is it the first time the MVFHC has been involved in such a suit. In 2016, it was part of a coalition of 20 groups which filed discrimination charges against Fannie Mae, a federally-backed manager of property loans and mortgages.