LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said on Monday that of the few remaining Fortune 500 companies in LA, Wells Fargo Bank is one of the remarkable firms, in terms of their commitment to community development efforts for the city.
“They’ve been a generous partner of the City of Los Angeles for a very long time,” said Villaraigosa at a press conference for the first anniversary of the NeighborhoodLIFT Program in Arleta, Los Angeles.
The NeighborhoodLIFT Program debuted in Los Angeles last year, offering $30,000 down payment assistance grants for qualifying applicants to use towards the purchase of a home.
Requirements for applicants include the completion of home buyer education training modules; an annual income not exceeding 120 percent of the median income for the area; and earning the down payment assistance grants when they buy and reside in an eligible home for five years. Mortgages available through this program are not exclusively offered through Wells Fargo.
Over the past year, as many as 184 Angelenos were able to purchase a home through the program, and received assistance grants from Wells Fargo amounting to more than $5.4 million.
According to John Sotoodeh, Wells Fargo LA Region president, the bank still has $4 million left to give away under the NeighborhoodLIFT.
Sotoodeh said that Wells Fargo’s community development work in Los Angeles has three important components geared towards helping hopeful Angelenos get closer to the American dream.
First is the down payment assistance grant program, second is working closely with the government and important organizations towards community development, and last is keeping homeowners in their homes by offering home preservation workshops.
“It’s just as important to keep people in their homes, as it is to help people get into their homes,” said Sotoodeh.
Also present at the event were the new homeowners of the house where the press conference was held in Arleta. Margarita Aguilar and Gamaliel Rosales, first generation immigrants from Mexico, were all smiles at the press conference with their 10-year-old daughter, Paola.
“They deserve a shot at homeownership,” said City Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky of Aguilar and Rosales.
“Each time we provide homeownership, it helps stabilize a community like Arleta here in the North San Fernando Valley,” the city supervisor added.
Margarita Aguilar told the Asian Journal that they were very happy that they finally got their new house. The new homeowner thanked God, Wells Fargo, and the city government for the assistance they received through the NeighborhoodLIFT program.
“We just want to thank them because they have a wonderful program that really helps people,” Aguilar said.
“Through Margarita and Gamaliel’s experience, we can see the NeighborhoodLIFT Program’s impact on everyday Angelenos,” said Villaraigosa.
The mayor said that the public-private partnership between the City of LA and Wells Fargo Bank is a testament to how great things can happen when the public and private sectors work together.
According to a press statement released on Monday, Los Angeles is one of 20 housing markets that benefit from a total of $170 million that Wells Fargo has committed through its LIFT programs (NeighborhoodLIFT and CityLIFT).
To date, this includes delivering $89.9 million for down payment assistance grants, and $11.8 million for non-profit housing counseling, homebuyer education, and local program support.
Wells Fargo also introduced similar programs in other California cities including Sacramento and Oakland – two of nine Easy Bay cities. The firm also intends to expand the scope of the program to Inland Empire in 2013.
LIFT programs currently have down payment assistance funds available for prospective homebuyers in the following housing markets: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland, Houston, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, and Tampa.
Aspiring home buyers can log on to www.wellsfargo.com/lift to learn more on how to apply for the program.
Sotoodeh said that those who would like to take advantage of the remaining $4 million left in assistance grants should get in touch with LA Neighborhood Housing Services or talk to a Wells Fargo mortgage representative.
(LA Weekend February 16-19, 2013 Sec. A pg.6)