WASHINGTON, D.C. – A settlement announced today will provide $27 million in funding to rebuid communites affected by the housing crisis in 19 cities, including Dayton. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) welcomed the news, noting that it will promote home ownership, neighborhood stabilization, AND promote rehabilitation and development in communities of color.
“Today’s settlement is an important victory for homeowners and communities devastated by the housing crisis,” Brown said. “By rebuilding neighborhoods in Dayton, we will improve surrounding property values, create new jobs, and foster long-term economic growth. While the settlement reached can in no way make up for discriminatory actions taken by mortgage servicers that harmed Ohio families, it is one step forward.”
The settlement between the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and Wells Fargo was prompted by a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in April 2012. The complaint alleged that Wells Fargo’s Real Estate Owned (REO) properties in white neighborhoods were much better maintained and marketed than those in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. REO properties are homes that have gone through the foreclosure process and owned by banks, investors, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration, or Department of Veterans Affairs. This is the first-ever agreement regarding the equal maintenance and marketing of REO homes.
Funds from the settlement will benefit the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center in Dayton. Among other uses, the grant will help fund down payment assistance to owner-occupants seeking to purchase homes, as well as renovation efforts for homes that languished in foreclosure.
“Wells Fargo has established itself as a leader in an effort to ensure that REO properties are properly maintained and marketed no matter where they are located in our city,” said Jim McCarthy, President/CEO of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center. In addition to grants, Wells Fargo will enhance its Homeowner Priority program to give owner-occupants priority over investors in purchasing REOs, while also making information about REOs more easily accessible to prospective buyers.
“This groundbreaking agreement is a testament to the fair housing movement’s vision and dedication to the promise of equality for all communities,” said Peter Romer-Friendman, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, who with Joseph M. Sellers represented the fair housing organizations in the matter.