By Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun (TNS)
BALTIMORE — A collection of fair housing advocacy groups on Wednesday accused Fannie Mae of a pattern of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed houses in white areas — including in the Baltimore region — better than in minority areas.
The National Fair Housing Alliance and 19 local fair housing organizations filed a complaint alleging violations of the federal Fair Housing Act with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after a five-year investigation in which investigators visited and documented the conditions of the foreclosed properties Fannie Mae owns in 34 metro areas.
The investigators presented photos at a news conference Wednesday of boarded windows, broken gutters, dead animals, litter and other signs of neglect that they said were far more common at Fannie Mae-owned homes in black and Latino neighborhoods.
“As the largest owner of (foreclosed) properties in the country, everything they do is magnified,” said Anne Houghtaling, director of the HOPE Fair Housing Center in Chicago, during a news conference in Washington. “You can spot them from a block away. They are the neighborhood eyesore….Because of this there is an uneven recovery in our neighborhoods.”
Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored company charged with encouraging home ownership, disputed the allegations.
“We strongly disagree with these allegations and firmly believe they have no merit,” Fannie Mae spokesman Andrew Wilson said in an email. “We are confident that our standards ensure that properties in all neighborhoods are treated equally, and we perform rigorous quality control to make sure that is the case. We remain dedicated to neighborhood stabilization efforts across the nation, including with respect to our maintenance of foreclosed properties.”
“The bottom line is that (foreclosures) in communities of color are significantly less maintained than in white communities across the country,” said Gail Williams, executive director of Metro Fair Housing Services in Atlanta.
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