MEMPHIS - May 29, 2012
Millions of dollars to help neighborhoods recover from the housing crisis are coming to Memphis and Shelby County under an agreement announced today that dismisses a lawsuit filed by the city and county against Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo is investing $7.5 million in Memphis and Shelby County as part of the new recovery efforts.
Under the agreement, Wells Fargo will provide grants totaling $4.5 million for mortgage down payment and home renovation assistance. Individuals who want to buy homes and live in Memphis and Shelby County can qualify for grants worth up to $15,000 each under the Wells Fargo home ownership program that is set to kick off later this year with a large-scale home ownership event in Memphis.
To qualify for the Wells Fargo grants, prospective homebuyers must have a family income not above 120 percent of the area median income and must complete an eight-hour homebuyer education session with an approved non-profit. Prospective homeowners also must agree to live in the home for five years. If they move sooner, they will have to return a pro-rated portion of the down payment or renovation grant.
The Memphis homeownership program is modeled after the NeighborhoodLIFTSM program, a collaborative effort by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A, Wells Fargo Foundation, and NeighborWorks America, an independent nonprofit organization. Through the program, Wells Fargo has already committed millions of dollars to help prospective homebuyers buy homes in nine U.S. cities – Atlanta, Houston, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix and Tampa.
Wells Fargo also has set a five-year mortgage lending goal of $425 million for the city and county. This will include $125 million in home purchase lending to low- and moderate-income borrowers.
In addition, as part of its agreement with Memphis and Shelby Country, Wells Fargo is contributing an additional $3 million to advance local initiatives and programs related to improving economic vitality, preserving public safety, and increasing financial literacy. The spending of those dollars will be directed by the city and county.
“The condition of the local housing market continues to challenge Memphis and Shelby County significantly, as unoccupied homes and excessive housing inventory weigh heavily on communities,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “We are pleased to announce this collaborative partnership to get more of these houses reoccupied and increase neighborhood stability.”
“While many efforts are already under way, it’s evident that more must be done to help our communities recover from the housing crisis,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. “We’re glad that Wells Fargo decided to engage in a dialogue that led to this collaboration.”
“We agreed that it was in the best interests of everyone involved to work together rather than to continue to be involved in a protracted legal fight,” said Leigh Collier, Wells Fargo regional president for the Mid-South, which includes Memphis. “The investment we’re announcing in Memphis and Shelby County today continues our ongoing commitment to helping communities succeed across the country.”
The city and county’s lawsuit against Wells Fargo was filed in January 2010, alleging the bank engaged in improper lending practices. Wells Fargo denies the allegations, citing its longstanding commitment to fair and responsible lending practices.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet (wellsfargo.com), and other distribution channels across North America and internationally. With more than 272,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in America. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 23 on Fortune’s 2011 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.