NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined representatives from Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America, and Hope Enterprise Corporation to announce the $5.15 million New Orleans NeighborhoodLIFT® program which will boost homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income households and to assist with the City’s coordinated development strategy to bring investment into all areas of New Orleans.
“Supporting and encouraging homeownership is vital to strengthening our neighborhoods throughout New Orleans,” Mayor Landrieu said. “We have worked closely with Wells Fargo to ensure that these funds leverage our other successful housing programs and magnify the impact of this generous investment in our city. This public-private partnership has the potential to make a significant difference to our residents and neighborhoods. I want to thank Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America, and Hope Enterprise Corporation for their commitment to the city of New Orleans.”
Of the $5.15 million commitment from Wells Fargo, $4 million will fund an initiative to help potential homebuyers overcome the lack of a sufficient down payment.
Down payment assistance grants of $15,000 will be available for eligible homebuyers with annual incomes that do not exceed 120 percent of the New Orleans area median income – which is $70,550 for a family of four – with income maximums varying depending on family size and type of loan. To be eligible, homebuyers must meet criteria including completing an eight-hour homebuyer education session with Hope Enterprise Corporation or other HUD-approved counseling agency.
Participants buying homes with LIFT $15,000 down payment assistance grants must commit to live in the home for five years and qualify for a first mortgage on the property. The down payment assistance grants may also be used to take out a new mortgage purchase renovation loan known as a 203k.
“Like many cities, New Orleans was impacted by the economic crisis – and that’s on top of the challenges caused by Katrina,” said Hugh Rowden, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Community Outreach Manager in the Southeast. “But New Orleans is coming back strong and housing is extremely important. While mortgages are available at low-interest rates, some families are unable to purchase a home or buy and renovate a home because they struggle with making the down payment. The NeighborhoodLIFT® program can help local homebuyers realize their dreams of owning a home.”
In addition to providing grants for homebuyers, the Wells Fargo program will also donate a total of $500,000 to help further stabilization efforts in New Orleans neighborhoods. The balance of the local financial commitment will provide homebuyer program support including the large-scale kickoff event.
Registration now open for free event Jan. 31 and Feb. 1
The New Orleans NeighborhoodLIFT® program will begin with a free homebuyer event on January 31 and February 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center at 900 Convention Center Blvd.
Prospective homebuyers can register and learn more about the program at www.neighborhoodlift.com or by calling (866) 858-2151. Pre-registration is strongly recommended for an opportunity to reserve a $15,000 down payment assistance grant, although walk-ins will be welcome while funds are available. The event will also include a Wells Fargo Affordable Home Tour® viewing center where attendees can preview local homes available for sale.
Participating homebuyers can obtain mortgage financing from any qualified lender and Hope Enterprise Corporation will determine eligibility and administer the down payment assistance grants. Approved homebuyers will have up to 60 days to finalize a contract to purchase a home in New Orleans in order to receive the $15,000.
“This innovative partnership between NeighborWorks America, NeighborWorks network member Hope Enterprise Corporation and Wells Fargo will put more New Orleans families and individuals on the path to homeownership,” said Donald Phoenix, NeighborWorks America’s Acting Senior Vice President, Field Operations. “The required eight-hour homebuyer education class has been shown to help homebuyers achieve successful and sustainable homeownership.”
New Orleans is the first city in 2014 to receive the NeighborhoodLIFT® program, and is now one of 23 housing markets across the country that will benefit from a total of $185 million Wells Fargo has committed through its LIFT programs. Since February 2012, LIFT programs have helped create more than 5,000 homeowners in housing markets where the programs have been introduced.
“At Hope Enterprise Corporation we have seen firsthand how homebuyer education and proper financing can foster successful homeowners and stronger neighborhoods,” said Bill Bynum, Chief Executive Officer of Hope Enterprise Corporation. “That's why we are very excited about participating in the New Orleans NeighborhoodLIFT program."
District D Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said, “Homeownership has long been a foundation of New Orleans’ communities. Homeowners are not just buying a house; they are buying into the community. They become personally invested in our city’s success. This program to help first time homebuyers reach their goal is a great thing and I thank Wells Fargo for their investment.”
State Representative Jared Brossett said, “I commend Wells Fargo for investing in the future of New Orleans by supporting sustainable homeownership and community development. This program not only helps families hoping to achieve the dream of owning a home, but it also helps the city of New Orleans. Homebuyers spur economic development, promote neighborhood stability, and make New Orleans a better place for all of us to live.”
About the NeighborhoodLIFT® program
The NeighborhoodLIFT program is collaboration between Wells Fargo, the nonprofit NeighborWorks America and local non-profit organizations. The NeighborhoodLIFT® program is designed to provide sustainable homeownership initiatives in cities affected by the housing crisis. A video about the NeighborhoodLIFT® program is posted at www.youtube.com/wellsfargo.
About Hope Enterprise Corporation and NeighborWorks America
Hope Enterprise Corporation is a chartered member of the NeighborWorks America, a national organization that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. NeighborWorks America supports a network of more than 235 nonprofits, located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Visit www.hope-ec.org or www.nw.org to learn more.
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 (www.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. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at http://blogs.wellsfargo.com.