Wells Fargo is gearing up to launch a program designed to boost Philadelphia’s rate of homeownership.
The nation’s largest home mortgage lender has partnered with nonprofit NeighborWorks America to launch the CityLIFT program, an initiative designed to provide down payment assistance and homebuyer education programs in areas most impacted by the financial crisis.
Vince Liuzzi, Wells Fargo’s regional president for Greater Philadelphia and Delaware says CityLIFT was created to help address the excessive housing inventory crisis facing many cities around the nation.
“At Wells Fargo, we want to do more to help stabilize neighborhoods — and in particular to help ease the housing inventory situation,” Liuzzi said during a press conference held Thursday afternoon in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.
“The demand for rental property for displaced homeowners, combined with a stalled housing market has forced home prices down. Wells Fargo is pleased to announce the launch of a program that will help boost the housing market in the city of Philadelphia, and put people in homes that they can afford.”
The new initiative is modeled after Wells Fargo’s successful NeighborhoodLIFT program — which was the first of its kind in the banking industry. Philadelphia is one of 20 cities that will benefit from a total of $170 million Wells Fargo has committed to support housing in cities affected by the economic downturn. The initiative is accompanied by a five-year lending goal of $2.2 billion for Philadelphia homebuyers.
Through CityLIFT, applicants can apply for up to $15,000 in down payment assistance grants, and tap into homebuyers education programs.
NeighborWorks America nonprofit affiliate New Kensington Community Development Corporation will determine income eligibility and help prospective homebuyers reserve down payment assistance grants and receive homeownership education. Since January, NeighborWorks has worked with Wells Fargo to bring LIFT programs to 10 cities around the country. The LIFT programs have helped create 263 new homeowners to date, with another 244 potential new homeowners in process of closing on a home.
“We are so proud that Wells Fargo has invited NeighborWorks to be a partner with them in CityLIFT, and Wells Fargo knows that a prepared homeowner is a successful homeowner. Successful homeowners build secure neighborhoods and revitalize communities such as this one — and this is our goal,” said Deborah Boatwright, Northeast regional director of NeighborWorks America.
To qualify for up to $15,000 in down payment assistance, applicants’ must be approved for home financing. An applicant’s household income cannot exceed 120 percent of area median income. For example, the annual household income for a family of four cannot exceed $97,800. Participating homebuyers must attend an eight-hour homeownership education class with a HUD-approved counselor and make a commitment to stay in the home for five years. Homebuyers can obtain mortgage financing from any lender.
“Philadelphia has a long proud tradition of homeownership, and that’s one of the things that makes our neighborhoods so vibrant. We know that homeownership is important to stabilizing neighborhoods in Philadelphia,” said Shanta Schachter, deputy director, New Kensington CDC.
Mayor Michael Nutter and Councilman Darrell Clarke were on hand to thank Wells Fargo for bringing the CityLIFT program to Philadelphia.
“This program is a continuation of ongoing efforts by our city to strengthen neighborhoods and provide quality and affordable housing for our residents,” said Nutter.
“This collaboration with Wells Fargo and local nonprofits will offer residents not only new opportunities to own a home, but also the knowledge and resources to be successful in this important investment.”
CityLIFT will officially launch during a free homebuyer workshop on September 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Hall D, 1101 Arch St.
Workshop attendees can apply for up to $15,000 in down payment assistance funding to purchase a home in Philadelphia. During the event, prospective homebuyers visit a viewing center to preview featured homes for sale in Philadelphia neighborhoods. A free bus tour will be offered from noon to 5 p.m. each day to view featured homes available for sale throughout Philadelphia.
Register for the upcoming workshop by visiting www.mycitylift or call 1(866) 802-0456. Preregistration is preferred. Walk-ins will be accepted.