Mortgages

Why Is the City of LA Suing a Mega-Bank?

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The city of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit May 30 against JPMorgan Chase & Co., accusing the nation’s largest bank of pushing minority consumers into risky, unaffordable mortgages. City Attorney Mike Feuer filed similar suits against Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. last year, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

These lawsuits are an attempt to collect damages the city suffered as a result of the foreclosure crisis, including decreased property tax revenue and costs of city services needed to maintain the properties. The city claims predatory lending had a direct impact on the spike in foreclosures in the city, contributing to the financial burden on the city as a result.

Los Angeles isn’t alone in feeling the effects of the housing crisis. In fact, LA had it better than many other large cities, at least statistically. In 2010, when nearly 2.9 million homes in the U.S. were in foreclosure, LA’s foreclosure rate didn’t crack the top 10 in the U.S., according to data from RealtyTrac. All of the metro areas with the top 10 foreclosure rates that year were in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada.

The city as a whole may not have a sky-high foreclosure rate, but certain sections of it do. In April, 1 out of every 1,464 properties in LA was in foreclosure, but in some ZIP codes, that figure was as high as 1 in 350. Four of of the five Los Angeles ZIP codes with the most foreclosures are overwhelmingly inhabited by minorities, mostly African-Americans, according to RealtyTrac foreclosure numbers and Movoto Real Estate demographic information.

The 200,000 foreclosures in LA between 2008 and 2012 reportedly cost the city $481 million, according to the LA Times report. City services to those foreclosed properties, including safety inspections, police and fire calls, trash removal and property maintenance, ran up a $1.2 billion tab.

Financial pains continue to linger after the recession, especially for the millions of consumers who endured or are still in the midst of foreclosure. Foreclosure can knock 100 to 300 points off your credit score and will remain on your credit report for seven years, but that doesn’t mean recovery is out of reach. After losing your home, check your credit and see where you can start moving forward again — you can get two of your free credit scores and a snapshot of your standing by using the tools on Credit.com.

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