SAN FRANCISCO and WASHINGTON, DC - December 19, 2013
Wells Fargo & Company, America’s largest mortgage lender, and NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit organization which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes and improve their lives, today announced more than 5,000 low- to moderate-income adults have become homeowners with the help of homebuyer education and down-payment assistance offered through LIFT programs.
The LIFT programs, a collaboration between Wells Fargo and Neighborworks America, are a $180 million multi-market initiative designed to help mortgage-ready buyers through services that include homebuyer education and down-payment assistance. The programs – first launched in February 2012 in Los Angeles and Atlanta – have distributed down payment-assistance grants ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 per homebuyer, depending on the housing market.
“Results achieved through LIFT programs are a testament to the extraordinary collaboration with cities and nonprofits to get resources to people who want to achieve the dream of home ownership,” said Jon Campbell, executive vice president and head of Government and Community relations at Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo will continue to support the revitalization of neighborhoods affected by the housing downturn and assist economic recovery.”
Since 2012, the NeighborhoodLIFT® and CityLIFT® programs have provided more than $89 million in down-payment assistance to help 5,024 people buy homes. Another $25 million in down payment assistance is currently reserved for homebuyers on their way to purchasing a home and more than $7 million in down-payment assistance is still available for eligible homebuyers to apply for in LIFT program markets.
“The LIFT programs are the result of an innovative collaboration between NeighborWorks America and Wells Fargo that is an excellent example of a large financial institution leveraging our national infrastructure and the local, on-the-ground organizations in our network to help stabilize communities,” said NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen M. Fitzgerald. “Successful homeownership is about more than just having enough money on hand and qualifying for a mortgage. It’s about knowing how to navigate the home-buying process, what to expect once you become a homeowner and having a trusted advisor to consult when questions come up.”
NeighborWorks data indicates about two-thirds of LIFT program homebuyers earn 80 percent or less of the area median income and the program is helping to improve local neighborhoods by turning unsold houses into owner occupied homes.
LIFT participants must meet certain financial criteria, including earning annual income not exceeding 120 percent of the median for the area and completing homebuyer-education training administered by HUD-approved housing counselors such as those at NeighborWorks organizations. Mortgages available through the program are offered by a variety of lenders, and the down-payment grants are funded by Wells Fargo and administered by NeighborWorks organizations. NeighborWorks America supports a network of more than 235 nonprofits, located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Since the inception of the LIFT programs, more than 20,000 potential home buyers have attended homebuyer education events in the following cities: Los Angeles; Atlanta; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Houston; Miami; Tampa; Orlando; Jacksonville; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Chicago; Sacramento; Oakland; Baltimore; New York City/New Jersey; the Inland Empire, CA; Cleveland; Memphis, Charlotte; and Portland, Ore. Overall, more than 5,000 people have signed up for homeownership education and counseling through LIFT, putting them closer to their goals of homeownership.
NeighborWorks America Survey on Homebuyer Attitudes
The milestone announcement comes as a new survey covering housing attitudes from NeighborWorks America found that 88 percent of adults living in the United States still rank owning their own home as an important element of what they define as “the American dream.” The survey also found that 75 percent of people say the home-buying process is complicated, including 86 percent of respondents under 30 years old.
Research conducted for NeighborWorks America also has found that homeowners who receive the organization’s pre-purchase housing counseling are about one-third less likely to become seriously delinquent on their mortgages within two years. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of LIFT participants report that the homebuyer education they received will help them manage their finances and stay in their homes. Widmeyer Communications, A Finn Partners Company conducted a national telephone survey among 1,000 U.S. adults using a random digit dial (RDD sample). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.
The NeighborhoodLIFT® program is collaboration between Wells Fargo Bank N.A., the Wells Fargo Foundation, NeighborWorks America, and local NeighborWorks organizations. The NeighborhoodLIFT® program is designed to promote sustainable homeownership in cities affected by the housing crisis. A video about the NeighborhoodLIFT program is posted at www.youtube.com/wellsfargo.
The CityLIFT® program, modeled after the highly successful NeighborhoodLIFT® program, is designed to provide down-payment assistance and homebuyer-education programs in areas most impacted by the financial crisis. The program was developed in connection with the 2012 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, and is collaboration between Wells Fargo Bank N.A. and NeighborWorks America.
About NeighborWorks America
For 35 years, NeighborWorks America has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.5 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, and the Internet (wellsfargo.com), and has offices in more than 35 countries to support the bank’s customers who conduct business in the global economy. With more than 270,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 25 on Fortune’s 2013 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. In 2012, the Company invested $315.8 million in grants to 19,500 nonprofits, and team members contributed more than 1.5 million volunteer hours around the country. For more information, please visit: www.wellsfargo.com/about/csr.