Wells Fargo & Company has announced a philanthropic commitment of $1 billion in support of efforts to address the U.S. housing affordability crisis.
Announced as part of the bank's new philanthropic strategy to use 2 percent of its after-tax profits to address three critical issues in underserved communities — housing affordability, financial health, and small business growth — the commitment will support initiatives in the areas of homelessness, available and affordable rentals, transitional housing, and home ownership. To that end, Wells Fargo will launch a $20 million Housing Affordability Challenge aimed at boosting the availability and sustainability of affordable housing nationwide by facilitating the construction and financing of housing as well as support services for low- and moderate-income families, the elderly, and the homeless.
"America's housing affordability crisis isn't restricted to cities on the East and West Coasts," said Wells Fargo's head of corporate philanthropy and community relations, Jon Campbell. "Families everywhere are sacrificing necessities like food, health care, and education in order to afford a place to live. Wells Fargo will bring local and national nonprofits and policy leaders together to better understand and address the full spectrum of housing affordability — from homelessness to rental housing to homeownership — and unlock more housing options for those in need."
In the area of financial health, Wells Fargo will support efforts to expand access to financial education and coaching, homebuyer counseling, and other programs or products that develop and reinforce healthy financial habits and increase overall financial success. And in support of small business growth, the bank will intensify efforts to develop technical assistance programs alongside initiatives that deliver more stability to startups and existing small businesses.
Brandee McHale will oversee the new strategy as head of the Wells Fargo Foundation, succeeding Campbell, who plans to retire at the end of the year. McHale most recently served as head of corporate citizenship at Citigroup and as president of the Citi Foundation and previously worked at the Ford Foundation, where she developed a portfolio of investments designed to help low-income households achieve financial success.
"Wells Fargo is focused on creating a path to stability and financial success for individuals and families that lack access to affordable housing, tools to manage financial health, and capital for small business growth," said Wells Fargo interim CEO and president Allen Parker. "Together, we can help spark systemic change and economic development for underserved communities. When people start businesses, build wealth, and are able to afford homes in their neighborhood, communities thrive."