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Wells Fargo is at the heart of making Oakland stronger by Micky Randhawa, East Bay president for Wells Fargo

Posted on 8/8/2013 by Alex Ayala

Oakland is a special place and Wells Fargo is committed to help our customers and team members that live and work here prosper and make the community stronger. As part of that commitment, Wells Fargo has granted more than $5 million to 204 Oakland schools and nonprofit organizations involved in the arts, economic development, education, human services and also civic organizations over the past three years. In 2012 alone, Wells Fargo’s Alameda County team members recorded over 8,800 volunteer hours. They have donated their time to filling a variety of important community needs – from building homes, to helping underserved children learn to read, to serving on the board of Oakland-based nonprofits.

Just recently, a team of 25 Wells Fargo team members got organized to help Habitat for Humanity build homes in Oakland. Showing their dedication, team members came from throughout the greater Bay Area and beyond including Lathrop, Campbell, Sacramento, Antioch, Pleasanton, Novato, and Oakland itself. Work by volunteers included sawing, nailing, painting, siding, and many more construction related activities to contribute to the completion of homes.

  

Wells Fargo team members working with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Oakland.

In this economy, some families continue to confront housing challenges.

 

We want to help our communities work through unprecedented challenges in the housing market. Part of our commitment as a financial institution is to educate our customers and we create opportunities to meet face-to-face with customers struggling with mortgage payment challenges.

 

Wells Fargo has hosted four large-scale Home Preservation Workshops in the Bay Area since 2010 where customers facing payment challenges could meet face-to-face with home preservation specialists and learn about options that may help them overcome payment challenges; understand how they may be able to keep their homes and avoid foreclosure; and connect with helpful resources like housing counselors and online tools.

 

It is important for context to know that the strengthening housing market, combined with Wells Fargo’s commitment to responsible lending and our work to help customers facing payment challenges, has resulted in a foreclosure rate of less than 1 percent of owner-occupied loans in our servicing portfolio over the past year.

 

While Wells Fargo’s Home Preservation workshops are focused on helping customers facing mortgage payment challenges, Wells Fargo recently introduced the CityLIFT℠ program to help stabilize local communities by helping qualified home buyers with down payment assistance. In launching East Bay CityLIFT, Wells Fargo committed $5 million to help stabilize nine East Bay communities in the form of $20,000 grants in down payment assistance for qualified homebuyers. The CityLIFT℠ program is a collaboration between Wells Fargo Bank; city officials in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, NeighborWorks America, and local NeighborWorks affiliate The Unity Council. The nine participating cities include: Oakland, Antioch, Bay Point, Brentwood, Concord, Fremont, Hayward, Pittsburg, and Richmond.

Wells Fargo is thrilled with the progress of helping local homeowners access the down payment assistance and there are still funds available. Local nonprofit, The Unity Council manages the program funds.

Wells Fargo is also bringing value to local small business owners.

Wells Fargo has a history of partnering with Grameen America to support local entrepreneurs with micro-financing to help small business succeed. In 2010, Wells Fargo announced a $1 million EQ2 (equity equivalent investment) to Grameen America to help fund its micro lending work across the country. $500,000 was used to help launch the Grameen America Oakland branch and to-date, the Wells Fargo dollars have funded more than 170 loans to entrepreneurs living below the federal poverty line in the East Bay. In total, Grameen America’s Bay Area branch has lent $700,000 in loan capital to over 500 women who reside in Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Richmond and Union City.

It is important to mention that nearly 30 percent of businesses in the U.S. are owned by women today and more financial institutions are adding services and programs specially geared toward helping women entrepreneurs. Wells Fargo recently announced our commitment to lend a cumulative total of $55 billion to women-owned businesses by 2020, in addition to offering numerous resources for small businesses. We want to help women grow their businesses, stay competitive, contribute to the economy and create jobs.

Wells Fargo wants to help all small businesses succeed financially and to work closely with business owners to help them access the capital and financial services that they need to operate and grow their businesses. In fact, Wells Fargo has loaned more money to small businesses than any other bank, based on 2002-2011 government data. In the first half of 2013, Wells Fargo extended $9.3 billion in new loan commitments to small business customers across the country – up 25 percent from the prior year. Since 1997, Wells Fargo has loaned more than $6.1 billion to Latino business owners.

Wells Fargo has a long history in Oakland. In fact it was in 1869 when we opened our first Oakland Agency at 9th & Broadway in what is now “Victorian Row.” And since then, we continue to work hand in hand with members of our local community. Through our philanthropy, volunteerism, support of sustainable home ownership and lending to create jobs we are making a difference. We look forward to continuing to help create a successful Oakland, well into the future.