Wells Fargo to provide $5.15 million for Milwaukee homeownership program

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. will provide $5.15 million for an initiative that aims to increase homeownership and strengthen neighborhoods in the City of Milwaukee’s low- and moderate-income areas.

The Milwaukee Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT program was announced today by Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America, Select Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

“This public-private partnership will make a significant difference for Milwaukee families and neighborhoods, by making homeownership more affordable for people who want to live here,” said Barrett. “This program will help bring more families to Milwaukee neighborhoods and I commend Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America, Select Milwaukee and all of our partners who are working hard to promote homeownership in the city. I applaud their commitment to the city of Milwaukee.”

Of the $5.15 million committed by Wells Fargo, $4 million will go toward down payment assistance grants and program support to help potential homebuyers overcome the barrier of making 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 Milwaukee area median income – which is about $84,350 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 Select Milwaukee or another HUD-approved counseling agency.

“Like many cities, Milwaukee was significantly affected by the housing crisis,” said Sang Kim, Wells Fargo’s lead region president for the Milwaukee Region. “While mortgages are available at relatively low-interest rates, many families are unable to buy a home because they struggle with making the down payment. The NeighborhoodLIFT program can help local mortgage-ready homebuyers realize their dreams of owning a home.”

To receive the full grant amount, participants buying homes with LIFT program 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 buy a home that needs improvements with a new mortgage purchase 203k renovation loan.

In addition to providing down payment assistance for homebuyers, Wells Fargo will donate $500,000 to support stabilization efforts in Milwaukee neighborhoods.

Milwaukee NeighborhoodLIFT program down payment assistance grants may also be combined with other down payment assistance programs to provide additional financial benefit to qualified buyers.

Participating homebuyers can obtain mortgage financing from any qualified lender and Select Milwaukee 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 Milwaukee to receive a grant.

“Select Milwaukee is prepared to help families qualify for the Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT program down payment assistance grants,” said Raymond Schmidt, executive director of Select Milwaukee. “If your goal for 2014 is to buy a home in Milwaukee, the opportunity is now. Families need to register and get prepared to work with the Select Milwaukee staff to be first in line to access the down payment grants.”

The Milwaukee NeighborhoodLIFT program will begin with a free homebuyer event on May 30-31 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave. Prospective homebuyers can register and learn more about the program at www.neighborhoodlift.com or by calling (866) 858-2151.

Milwaukee is the fourth city in 2014 to receive the NeighborhoodLIFT  program, and is now one of 26 housing markets across the country that will benefit from a total of $200 million Wells Fargo has committed through its LIFT programs. Since February 2012, LIFT programs have helped create more than 6,650 homeowners in housing markets where the programs have been introduced.

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