The National Fair Housing Alliance filed a complaint on April 10 with the US Department of Housing against San Francisco–based Wells Fargo, accusing the nation’s largest mortgage lender of failing to maintain and market foreclosed properties in black and Hispanic neighborhoods. The federal Fair Housing Act requires banks, investors, servicers and other parties to maintain and market homes without regard to race or ethnicity. Wells Fargo disputes the claim, saying in a statement that it conducts all lending practices in a fair and consistent manner without regard to race. The bank services one out of every six home loans in the United States.
But this is far from the first time that Wells Fargo has been accused of racism. Back in 2008, the city of Baltimore filed a federal suit, charging that Wells Fargo was unfairly targetting African-Americans for subprime loans. Several whistleblowers came forth, one of whom described a workplace in which blacks were referred as “mud people” and subprime lending as “ghetto loans.” Beth Jacobson, a former loan officer at Wells Fargo, came on GRITtv at the time to explain how she’d been encouraged to push customers who could have qualified for prime loans into subprime mortgages.
No regard to race at Wells Fargo? You tell me.
Joining us back in studio for this discussion in 2009 were Sarah Ludwig, co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project; Kai Wright, who wrote about the “Subprime Swindle” for The Nation magazine; Leah Fried, organizer with the United Electrical Union; and Beth Jacobson, who after leaving Wells Fargo was offering advice to homeowners facing foreclosure through her agency, Paralegal Services and Consulting.