National Effort to Hold Deutsche Bank Responsible for Neglect of Foreclosures in Communities of Color

HOPE and 18 other fair housing organizations joined the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) in the filing of an amended administrative with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) against Deutsche Bank AG, Deutsche Bank National Trust, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, Ocwen Financial Corporation, and Altisource Portfolio Solution, Inc.  The original complaint was filed against Deutsche Bank, et al. on February 26, 2014.

Today’s amended 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.  Also included is new evidence in support of allegations that the companies continue to discriminate against communities of color in 30 metropolitan areas across the United States by failing to provide required routine maintenance on bank-owned homes in middle- and working-class African American and Latino neighborhoods, while consistently providing routine maintenance on similar bank-owned homes in white neighborhoods. 1,100 homes were investigated across the U.S., and approximately 30,000 photographs reveal a stark pattern of discriminatory conduct.

Poorly maintained bank-owned properties create a harmful and dangerous environment for the local community. They also drive down the property value of homes owned by neighbors – causing the overall community to be economically depressed. The practice of neglecting foreclosed properties in African American and Latino communities increases the economic divide, perpetuates segregation, and denies people within these communities the right to fair and safe housing.

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.

HOPE investigated 63 Deutsche Bank-owned homes Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence, Inc (HOPE, Inc.) investigated 63 Deutsche Bank-owned homes in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL area between 2012 and 2016: 27 located in African-American neighborhoods; 11 located in Latino neighborhoods; 9 located in other non-White neighborhoods; and 16 located in White neighborhoods.

  • 74.5% or 35 of the Deutsche Bank homes in neighborhoods of color had substantial amounts of trash on the premises, while only 50% or 8 Deutsche homes in predominantly White neighborhoods did.
  • 55.3% or 26 of the Deutsche Bank homes in neighborhoods of color had broken or boarded windows, while only 31.3% or 5 Deutsche homes in predominantly White neighborhoods did.
  • 40.4% or 19 of the Deutsche Bank homes in neighborhoods of color had a damaged fence, while only 12.5% or 2 Deutsche homes in predominantly White neighborhoods did.

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.  “It’s my understanding that Deutsche Bank required its preservation maintenance companies to pay most of the $10 million to resolve that case, so you would expect Deutsche/Ocwen/Altisource to monitor maintenance to ensure these shameful, discriminatory practices of neglecting routine maintenance in middle/working class communities of color ended.  Unfortunately, we still find these horrid conditions at too many bank-owned homes in communities of color,” said Smith.

“Action on [the bank’s] part is long overdue.  They’ve been on notice for five years now,” added HOPE’s President & CEO, Keenya Robertson, Esq.  “They’ve made money off of these communities, the least they can do is to stop negatively impacting these communities’ ability to rebuild.”

You can view photos of the properties at