Legal groups sue out-of-state property company, allege it scammed Black Michiganders
A class action lawsuit filed in federal court this week alleges that Vision Property Management, a company based out of South Carolina, scammed low-income Black residents looking to buy a home in the Detroit and Flint areas.
Four legal groups filed the suit, including the ACLU of Michigan and the Michigan Poverty Law Program. They allege Vision lured about 1,000 consumers into contracts that seemed to promise future homeownership.
Instead, the lawsuit says, those contracts load consumers with financial obligations by hiding the cost of fixing and maintaining the homes. Often dilapidated, the homes had gone through foreclosure after the 2008 financial crisis.
After years, many of the homebuyers are hardly any closer to owning them, says the lawsuit.
Lorray Brown, the co-managing attorney at the Michigan Poverty Law Program, says a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would allow more people to take legal action against companies practicing similar schemes.
“We want to actually have a determination that this company has violated the federal civil rights and consumer laws,” she said.
From the redlining that denied Black Michiganders bank loans to buy houses to the subprime mortgages that contributed to the 2008 recession, Brown says Black communities near Flint and Detroit are no stranger to discriminatory housing policies and practices.
“This is yet another extension of targeting Black communities, Black communities being fertile ground for unscrupulous predatory lenders,” she said of Vision’s ploy.
Attorneys General in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York have also brought lawsuits against Vision.
Vision did not return a request for comment.