Michigan nonprofit reaches $53 million settlement
With this settlement, more than $1.2 million will go to equitable housing projects in Grand Rapids and Muskegon.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A West Michigan nonprofit is part of a $53 million settlement with Fannie Mae after a federal court found the mortgage company was not caring properly foreclosed homes in the area.
The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan was one of about 20 housing groups across the country involved in the case. With this settlement, approximately $1.2 million will go to housing projects in West Michigan.
About 10 years ago, members of the organization marched through the streets on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. It was part of an effort to one day give back to the community.
“We were part of a national survey looking at how properties were maintained in minority postcodes versus white postcodes after the 2008 housing crisis,” executive director Nancy Haynes said.
The Center found that of more than 30 homes in Fannie Mae’s portfolio, those in ZIP Code 49507 were twice as likely to have five or more impairments as those in ZIP Code 49504.
“We looked at whether or not the properties were being marketed with signs for sale. We looked at whether the lawns were mowed or not, whether the rubbish was picked up or not, whether the broken windows were secured or not, whether there was holes or not in the siding,” says Haynes.
Homes involved in the lawsuit against Fannie Mae
The center’s investigation ended in 2014 and spanned the Northern District of California, where housing centers from dozens of other centers also filed. Just this week, the multi-million dollar settlement was reached.
“It’s groundbreaking in that it’s the first time a court, a federal court, has ruled that the Fair Housing Act applies to the maintenance and marketing of real estate properties,” says -she.
More than $1.2 million will be dedicated to fair housing in West Michigan, with half in Grand Rapids and the other half in Muskegon.
“We want to listen to neighbors who live in these affected neighborhoods, to find out what their priorities are and where the gaps are,” Haynes said.
This includes creating grants for down payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers and renovations for foreclosed homes in poor condition.
“We are so thrilled to be able to have the resources to try to help the neighborhoods hardest hit by these discriminatory policies,” she says.
The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan has 30 months to delegate these funds and looks forward to partnering with local nonprofits to create a plan.
A Fannie Mae spokesperson released a statement saying:
“This settlement resolves legacy Real Property Maintenance (REO) allegations and allows Fannie Mae and the National Fair Housing Alliance to move forward and work together on important equity issues. of housing. Fannie Mae takes the maintenance of all of its properties very seriously. We require the same standards of property maintenance in all neighborhoods, regardless of race or ethnicity, and conduct quality by third parties independent of the vendors hired to carry out this work.Our REO housekeeping standards are designed to ensure that all properties are maintained and treated equally.Over the years we have continuously improved our housekeeping practices REO in the normal course of business, including the adoption of mobile technology to improve quality control and the efficiency of property inspections; improved advice improved to service providers on the ground regarding our expectations, including fair housing compliance; the use of clear boarding nationwide; and expanded and diversified our network of field service providers. Through these actions, we have demonstrated our continued commitment to providing quality care to all communities. We remain firmly committed to continuing to provide this high level of attention to our REO properties as a central part of our mission to facilitate equitable and sustainable access to homeownership and rental housing across the country.
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