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HOME and Wells Fargo begin effort to Increase African-American home ownership

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Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. (HOME) and Wells Fargo Bank announced on Monday a partnership agreement aimed at increasing homeownership opportunities and expanding mortgage lending for African-Americans and African-American neighborhoods in the Richmond area.

The partnership provides for more than $4 million in financial support to HOME. It was described as one of the largest agreements ever between a financial institution and an individual fair housing organization.

“Differences in homeownership between African-Americans and white Americans are the foundation of wealth inequality in Richmond and across the country, and HOME is committed to rooting out these differences in opportunity to reduce racial gaps and inequities and build a strong middle class,” Heather Crislip, president and CEO of HOME, said in a statement.

Brad Blackwell, a Wells Fargo executive vice president who is head of housing policy and homeownership growth strategies, noted that Wells Fargo announced a nationwide $60 billion lending commitment earlier this year to create at least 250,000 African American homeowners by 2027. “Our efforts with HOME in the Richmond area will be a perfect complement to the broader national commitment and establish the foundation for what we expect will be a long and substantive relationship with one of the country’s pre-eminent fair housing organizations,” he said in a statement.

The agreement provides HOME with $3 million over four years to enhance and support its foreclosure prevention, financial literacy, and homebuyer education and counseling programs.

The Wells Fargo investments are designed to allow HOME to expand access to credit in Richmond’s underserved communities and make homeownership available to qualified, first-time homebuyers throughout the region.

Wells Fargo also will provide $1 million over four years in down payment assistance to low- and moderate-income, first-time homebuyers in the region. As part of the partnership, HOME will work with Wells Fargo to conduct fair-housing compliance testing at Wells Fargo branches and provide other monitoring and training assistance.

HOME had investigated regional mortgage lending activity and brought concerns it had to government regulators and Wells Fargo about underserved minority communities in the Richmond area. “As the largest lender in our region, we believe this initiative by Wells will set the standard for other lenders to follow,” Crislip said.


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