MMFHC Reaches Landmark Settlement with Fannie Mae
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2022
Media Contact: William R. Tisdale, President and CEO | 414-278-1240 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council and Other Fair Housing Groups Reach Historic Settlement with Fannie Mae Focused on Rebuilding Communities of Color
The settlement will directly and immediately benefit the communities of color throughout metropolitan Milwaukee and nationwide hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis and its aftermath.
Milwaukee, WI — Today, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC) along with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 19 other local fair housing organizations throughout the country, reached a landmark $53 million agreement with Fannie Mae (formally known as the Federal National Mortgage Association) to resolve a case arising from allegations that Fannie Mae treated foreclosed homes in communities of color unfavorably. The settlement will help rebuild and strengthen communities of color in 39 metropolitan areas including metropolitan Milwaukee. In the case, MMFHC and the other plaintiffs alleged that Fannie Mae maintained and marketed its foreclosed homes in predominantly White neighborhoods while allowing similar homes in communities of color to fall into disrepair and this differential treatment exacerbated the damage caused by the 2008 mortgage crisis and impeded recovery from the crisis in neighborhoods of color. The case was the first time a federal court confirmed the nation’s fair housing laws cover the maintenance and marketing of Real Estate Owned (REO) properties.
According to William R. Tisdale, the President and CEO of MMFHC, “For many decades, residents of metropolitan Milwaukee have been harmed by discriminatory housing practices that deny us equal housing opportunities and separate us from one another based on race and national origin. Discrimination in the housing market has caused immeasurable financial harm to Black families and communities, as well as to other people of color, and has resulted in this being one of the most segregated regions in the nation, with some of the greatest racial disparities in economic wellbeing. As our case against Fannie Mae demonstrated, unfair housing practices continue into the 21st century. We are gratified that this agreement with Fannie Mae will enable our community to undertake some efforts toward healing and repair.”
The plaintiffs’ 2016 allegations against Fannie Mae arose after a comprehensive, four-year investigation of more than 2,300 Fannie Mae-owned foreclosed properties in 39 metropolitan areas in the country. Of those properties, 330 were located in metropolitan Milwaukee. The plaintiffs collected more than 49,000 photographs revealing poorly maintained properties in Black and Latino communities, particularly as compared to properties in predominantly White neighborhoods.
Today’s agreement has far-reaching implications. MMFHC and the other plaintiffs will invest the vast majority of the settlement monies directly back into the communities they allege were harmed by Fannie Mae’s conduct. Specifically, plaintiff organizations will use over $35 million of the settlement to promote home ownership, neighborhood stabilization, access to credit, property rehabilitation, and residential development in the 39 metropolitan areas at issue in the case, including metropolitan Milwaukee. The plaintiffs will manage and disburse the settlement funds, providing much-needed grants, including for down-payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers and renovations for homes that languished in foreclosure. The grants will also include innovative programs and partnerships to promote fair housing.
Fannie Mae implemented practices that will help avoid similar harmful treatment of communities of color in the future, including increasing its oversight of maintenance of properties it owns, prioritizing owner-occupants rather than investors as purchasers of REOs, and ensuring that it complies with fair housing laws, including by providing fair housing training to its employees and vendors.
MMFHC and the other fair housing groups are represented by noted civil rights law firms Relman Colfax PLLC and Dane Law LLC. The organizations were also represented by Morgan Williams, NFHA’s General Counsel, and Julia Howard-Gibbon, Supervising Attorney of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants supported the investigation into potential disparities in the maintenance and marketing of REO properties. The author and publisher of this press release are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.
About the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC)
MMFHC is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote fair housing throughout the State of Wisconsin by combating illegal housing discrimination and by creating and maintaining racially and economically integrated housing patterns. It operates satellite offices in Dane County (the Fair Housing Center of Greater Madison) and in Northeast Wisconsin (the Fair Housing Center of Northeast Wisconsin). Persons who feel they may have experienced illegal housing discrimination should call 1-877-647-3247, a toll-free number. Callers within the 414 area code may call 414-278-1240. All services to victims of illegal housing discrimination are free of charge.