MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Homeownership rates among people of color in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., demonstrate the highest disparity in the U.S. with a glaring 50% racial equity gap between White and Black homeowners, according to the Urban Institute. To address this ongoing issue, Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks® America, and its network member NeighborWorks Home Partners today announced NeighborhoodLIFT® program, a $7 million collaboration to boost homeownership in Minneapolis and St. Paul for low- and moderate-income individuals by offering $15,000 in down payment assistance to 425 eligible homebuyers.
“Homeownership is a key pathway to housing stability, wellness and wealth accumulation, but far too many people—including people of color—aren’t able to overcome the barrier of coming up with a down payment,” said Laurie Nordquist, lead region president for Wells Fargo Bank in Minnesota. “Together with NeighborWorks America and NeighborWorks Home Partners, this initiative will help more low- and moderate-income families become successful homeowners in Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
“I am thrilled to welcome the Wells Fargo Neighborhood LIFT program to the Twin Cities,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “Through our existing Minneapolis Homes programs and past work with NeighborWorks Home Partners, we know that down payment assistance programs are a key element to opening up access to homeownership for our low and moderate income Minneapolis households and addressing the racial homeownership gap. I look forward to welcoming hundreds of new Minneapolis homeowners through this $7 million investment.”
“This enduring public health and economic crisis increases the barriers too many face in accessing stable affordable housing,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “This investment from Wells Fargo in collaboration with NeighborWorks America and NeighborWorks Home Partners helps support a pathway towards home ownership for hundreds of families and greater community stability.”
The NeighborhoodLIFT program also aligns with the goals and principles of the Roundtable for Economic Access and Change (Project REACh) founded by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The Project REACh coalition focuses on removing barriers to financial inclusion and providing greater access to credit and capital. Wells Fargo is involved in all four Project REACh work streams, including the Alternative Credit Score Utility; Small Business Opportunity; Revitalizing Minority Depository Institutions Working Groups; and is leading the Homeownership Working Group, which seeks to expand and preserve affordable homeownership among minority populations. The NeighborhoodLIFT program addresses several of the challenges facing potential homeowners, including engaging in homebuyer education, savings, and wealth creation. Additional information can be found at www.occ.gov/REACh.
“This Wells Fargo initiative supports broader inclusion in the financial system by addressing a key barrier to owning a home in Minneapolis and St. Paul, which has the largest racial disparity of homeownership in the U.S.,” said Kristy Fercho, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending and chair of the Project REACh Homeownership Working Group. “In addition to providing down payment assistance, we are looking forward to launching more programs aligned with these goals – like a new closing cost credit program – in the days ahead.”
Today’s expansion of the NeighborhoodLIFT program builds on Wells Fargo’s investment of $925 million in local community development loans and equity investments for affordable housing development projects in Minnesota since 2009. This financing has supported the creation or renovation of 4,556 affordable rental units for families, veterans, seniors, and homeless Minnesotans. The 56 housing developments supported by this financing between 2009-2018 account for more than one of every five affordable rental housing units in the state, according to the most current data available from HUD. Almost $14 million in previous Minnesota LIFT investments have helped more than 875 state residents become homeowners since 2012.
Wells Fargo’s latest NeighborhoodLIFT investment for Minneapolis and St. Paul includes $250,000 for home ownership counseling so buyers can learn how to navigate the home purchasing process and determine how to best budget for ongoing homeownership costs. Counseling is available through NeighborWorks Home Partners and other local HUD-certified counseling agencies.
“This important collaboration will assist more than 425 homeowners,” said John Santner, regional vice president, Midwest region, NeighborWorks America. “The required homebuyer education provided by trained professionals to better prepare NeighborhoodLIFT homebuyers to achieve their goal of sustainable homeownership.”
Eligible homebuyers can earn 80% or less of family median income in Minneapolis and St. Paul, which is about $77,840, as determined by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. Participating homebuyers can obtain mortgage financing from any participating NeighborhoodLIFT lender, and NeighborWorks Home Partners will determine eligibility and administer the down payment assistance.
Interested individuals should visit www.wellsfargo.com/lift for additional information for the steps to apply for down payment assistance. Homebuyers can view a list of participating lenders and sign-up for homebuyer education with a HUD-approved provider at https://nwhomepartners.org. Applications for down payment assistance may be submitted beginning Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.
“We are ready to help more Minneapolis and St. Paul families achieve successful and sustainable homeownership,” said Jason Peterson, chief executive officer of NeighborWorks Home Partners. “NeighborhoodLIFT is a unique program that prepares people for homeownership through empowering education.”
Since 2012, Wells Fargo has invested $504 million in NeighborhoodLIFT and other LIFT programs across more than 1000 communities to help 24,500 Americans become homeowners. The program is part of the Wells Fargo Foundation’s commitment to invest more than $1 billion in support of housing affordability solutions across the U.S.
The Wells Fargo Foundation has also distributed $175 million in donations across the U.S. in 2020, in response to the economic fallout caused by COVID-19. These resources have helped provide support for food, small businesses, and housing needs. Grants focused on keeping people housed include funding for national nonprofit housing intermediaries, local nonprofits, and legal assistance organizations, including Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, that drive advocacy efforts and work with people to mitigate rental evictions.
About NeighborWorks Home Partners and NeighborWorks America
NeighborWorks Home Partners is a chartered member of NeighborWorks America, a national organization that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. NeighborWorks America supports a network of more than 240 nonprofits, located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Visit www.neighborworks.org or www.nwhomepartners.org to learn more.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.92 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,200 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 31 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2020 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.