SAN BERNARDINO -- Wells Fargo Co. executives on Thursday announced a $4.8 million program to help people with home down payments here and in Fontana, Riverside, Moreno Valley and Corona.
The funding is the result of a 2012 legal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, in which Wells Fargo agreed to provide $50 million to fund community involvement programs in Baltimore and seven metropolitan areas identified by the Justice Department as being the most in need of support to recover from the housing market crisis.
This money became the Wells Fargo CityLIFT program, which has helped more than 3,600 people become homeowners in 18 markets where the program has been introduced, said Milton A. Dellossier, a Covina-based Wells Fargo Home Mortgage regional manager.
Down payment assistance grantsWhat: Wells Fargo CityLIFT down payment assistance program
Where: National Orange Show's Damus building, San Bernardino
When: Aug. 9 and Aug. 10 from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
For more info: 866-802-0456
The program could help place 320 homeowners in properties scattered around the five cities.
"We have all been drastically hit by the financial meltdown of 2007 and 2008," Morris said during an announcement of the program Thursday on the steps in front of San Bernardino City Hall. "During the height of that great recession, we had some 5,000 homes in foreclosure."
"This city has become a city of renters, not homeowners," Mayor Patrick Morris said of San Bernardino. "Renters move quite often and when they move their children go to a different school and then another. ... The effect on the education of children is large. Home ownership is a critical part of stabilizing a community."
The CityLIFT program will provide up to $15,000 in down payment assistance for first-time home buyers.
"Until we get the housing market completely fixed we are not going to get a complete recovery. This is why programs like this are so important," said John Husing, a Redlands-based economist who studies the Inland Empire.
Fontana and San Bernardino are each going to provide an additional $800,000 to the down payment pot, making it possible for someone to qualify for up to a $30,000 down payment, the mayors of both cities said.
Wells Fargo will work with administrators of the five cities and Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire to implement the program, officials said.
The Inland Empire CityLIFT program will include a free home buyer workshop at 10 a.m. Aug. 9 and Aug. 10 at the National Orange Show's Damus Building in San Bernardino.
Prospective home buyers should pre-register at wellsfargo.com/citylift as soon as possible to ensure that they can apply for the down payment grants on the workshop days, The CityLIFT program can be supplemented by individual city programs, said Dellossier.
"It's on a first-come basis," Dellossier said of the $4.8 million program. "We want to get that money out there fast."
The program allows a family of four to earn $76,430 annually and a one-person household to earn $53,550, according to a CityLIFT fact sheet. A four-person household, where annual income is $76,450 or less, could buy a $300,000 to $350,000 house, Dellossier said.
"Everyone I talk to says the down payment is the biggest obstacle (to home ownership)," said Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren. "We want to help existing people in Fontana get homes, but we will never turn down a family who wants to move into Fontana. Come on in, you know our motto."
David Edgar, Fontana's deputy city manager, said homeowners tend to maintain their property and become involved in their community. Another plus for home ownership in a city is that there tends to be fewer police calls to areas with high home ownership compared to rentals.
Edgar said that Neighborhood Housing Services and the San Bernardino County are working on an $800,000 grant to enable Fontana to beef up the down payment program.
Morris said that the San Bernardino City Council recently approved the use of a U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant to sweeten the pot in the Wells Fargo program.
In July 2012, Wells Fargo announced a settlement with the Justice Department to resolve claims that some Wells Fargo mortgages may have had a disparate impact on some African-American and Hispanic borrowers.
Wells Fargo agreed to pay $125 million to borrowers that the Justice Department believes were adversely affected by mortgages priced and sold by independent wholesale brokers.
The $50 million for what became the CityLIFT program was part of the Justice Department settlement.