Is Racial Discrimination Blocking Recovery In Dayton? WYSO’s Lewis Wallace Talks To Jim McCarthy

Nov 7, 2013

It’s been five years since the housing bubble burst. Lots of people in the Dayton area lost their homes to foreclosure, and many of those homes are still sitting vacant.

Before the housing bust, McCarthy says his work at the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center often focused on discriminatory lending and rental practices; they were trying to get people of color into homes. But since the housing bust, he says the center has shifted focus towards keeping people in the greater Dayton area in their homes, through fighting foreclosures and seeking refinancing.

Now the center is involved with three national complaints against banks over a different kind of racial discrimination: groups from 19 cities accuse Bank of America, US Bank and Wells Fargo of failing to maintain foreclosed homes in mostly-black and Latino neighborhoods, while keeping homes in white neighborhoods in better shape.

In June, Wells Fargo settled the claim with the National Fair Housing Alliance for $42 million, $1.4 million of which will go to the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center. The complaint was handled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Representatives of Bank of America and US Bank have both disputed the claims against them, and the outcomes are pending.

McCarthy also discusses the effects of foreclosure on his clients and their families, and what he believes needs to happen in the aftermath to protect the American dream.

Under Construction is WYSO’s series on growth in the greater Dayton area. We dig underneath the physical and economic markers of growth to look at the human consequences. Check back Thursdays for new editions of Under Construction.