Complaint: Fannie Mae discriminates against minority neighborhoods

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana filed a housing discrimination complaint Wednesday against Fannie Mae.

It claims the government-sponsored company isn’t maintaining foreclosed properties in minority neighborhoods the same way it does in predominately white neighborhoods.

The center joined eighteen other housing organizations from across the country in filing the complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It says unkempt, foreclosed properties leave neighborhoods unstable.

“I’m so afraid someone’s going to set it on fire or children are going to get hurt,” said Pamela Toney, who lives on the near east side. “We see that our neighborhood is going down and nothing is being done about it.”

The issue are the three abandoned homes on the block.

“Our property values, just in this area on this side of 16th Street, have actually dropped tremendously because of all the problems,” said Jeremy Teague, who lives across the street from Toney.

Garbage was seen on the front porch of one house, and near knee-high grass in front of another.

But they say the main culprit is a foreclosed house that Fannie Mae is selling on its website.

“It’s dangerous,” said Toney.

“They don’t keep up on the properties at all. As you can see, the house is falling apart,” said Teague.

HomePath is the same website site the Fair Housing Center used for data to file its new complaint against Fannie Mae.

The complaint claims foreclosed homes in minority neighborhoods aren’t being maintained the same way as those in predominantly white neighborhoods.

“We maintain that is illegal under the Fair Housing Act,” said Amy Nelson, the Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. “What we want to see, for instance, is that the grass is being mowed, that stairs aren’t crumbling in the front steps that the gutters are being cleaned. Things that have direct curb appeal and address directly safety.

Without the bank doing the work, it falls on Toney and her neighbors.

“We can only do so much. We definitely need help,” said Toney.

Fannie Mae released this statement:

“We strongly disagree with these allegations and firmly believe they have no merit.  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.”

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