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Wells Fargo launches pilot programs to clear LA, Atlanta housing inventory

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Wells Fargo (WFC) will launch two multibillion-dollar programs this February to clear housing inventory in Los Angeles and Atlanta. The San Francisco-based bank is calling the program Neighborhood Lift. As part of the effort, Wells committed $10.5 billion in mortgage lending in the L.A. metro area and $1.3 billion in Atlanta over the next five years. It will also provide $15 million in Los Angeles and $8 million in Atlanta that will go toward down-payment assistance, renovation financing and other homebuyer programs in 2012. The bank is partnering with the nonprofit NeighborWorks America on the grants. Wells will launch homebuyer events Feb. 3-4 in L.A. followed events Feb. 10-11 in Atlanta. More than two dozen of these workshops are planned throughout the country in 2012. Both cities have been hard hit by the housing crisis and hold tens of thousands of properties in REO alone. Wells remains the largest mortgage lender in the U.S. It originated $357 billion in new mortgages in 2011, a 7.5% decrease from the year before but still double the next closest lender JPMorgan Chase (JPM), which wrote roughly $146 billion in mortgages for the year. "Wells Fargo wants to support the revitalization of neighborhoods substantially impacted by the housing downturn, and inspire others to join efforts to support our nation's economic recovery," said Jon Campbell, head of the bank's social responsibility department. Eileen Fitzgerald, CEO of NeighborWorks America, said the commitment from Wells was "tremendous." "This is the kind of public-private collaboration that can help communities tackle difficult challenges and families realize their goal of sustainable homeownership," she said. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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