Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez today filed lawsuits on behalf of Cook County against HSBC, Bank of America and Bank of America subsidiaries including, Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, alleging that their predatory and discriminatory mortgage lending and loan servicing activities violated the Fair Housing Act.
The complaints assert that these financial institutions’ activities, in part, led to the foreclosure crisis throughout Cook County. The County is seeking injunctive relief from these financial institutions’ predatory lending practices and monetary damages for the resulting decline of the County’s tax base, the loss of property tax and other revenue, and costs relating to abandoned or vacant properties.
“This predatory lending crisis caused tremendous tangible and intangible damage, particularly to African American and Latino communities in Cook County,” President Preckwinkle said. “These practices led to the erosion of the tax base, the loss of property tax revenue, out-of-pocket costs relating to abandoned or vacant properties, and other damages to the fabric of the communities and residents arising from the resulting urban blight.”
“Defendants’ activities adversely impact all of Cook County, but they have had a particularly devastating effect on minority communities because predatory mortgage loans were concentrated in minority communities,” said Special Assistant State’s Attorney, Jim Evangelista, a partner with the law firm of Harris Penn Lowry, LLP which represents Cook County. Special Assistant State’s Attorney James Montgomery, of James D. Montgomery & Associates, Ltd., who also represents Cook County, stated that “the financial institutions that stripped equity from minority homeowners will be held accountable for their actions.”