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Wells Fargo commits $1.6 billion to help revitalize Washington, D.C.

Pledges more mortgages, small business lending, community lending

Aiming to aid in the revitalization of the nation’s capital, Wells Fargo announced Tuesday that it is committing more than $1.6 billion in lending and philanthropy in Washington, D.C., over five years.

The financial commitment is part of a new program being launched by the bank in coordination with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition called the “Where We Live” program.

Through the program, Wells Fargo will triple its community giving and “concentrate resources on the biggest needs identified by community leaders,” including affordable housing, small businesses, and job skills.

According to Wells Fargo, the effort will primarily be focused on Ward 7 and Ward 8, two of the city’s most economically challenged areas.

Included among the effort is a five-year, $16 million philanthropic commitment that includes $4 million for Community Development Financial Institutions to help grow the small business community and $6 million for nonprofit housing initiatives, including down payment assistance and development of affordable rental properties.

But the bulk of the financial effort will come in the form of more than $1.5 billion for loans and equity investments in mortgage lending, small business lending and community lending and investment.

Part of that push has already begun. According to the bank, one of the early Where We Live projects utilized $90 million in lending and equity investments from Wells Fargo to convert an abandoned housing complex into 220 affordable rental units.

“Communities succeed when we all work together,” Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said.

“The Where We Live program is rooted in two things: investments that help people live, work and thrive, and a deep understanding that neighborhoods need long-term partners,” Sloan added. “It builds on Wells Fargo’s legacy of empowering residents and small businesses in our nation’s capital for the past 100 years, and our desire to create a compelling community investment model in Washington, D.C.”

Wells Fargo isn’t the first bank to commit financial muscle to the D.C. area in this year alone. Back in April, JPMorgan Chase announced that it was committing $4 billion over five years for home and small business lending in the area as part of an expansion into the region.

And now, it’s Wells Fargo’s turn to help D.C., especially in areas that are sorely in need of help.

“This is an important step by Wells Fargo to expand its investment in the District, and to listen and work more closely with community groups,” John Taylor, president and founder of NCRC, said.

“Expanding access to mortgage and small business loans is essential to closing the wealth gap,” Taylor continued. “Lenders need to listen and focus on the needs of the communities where they do business. It's heartening to see Wells Fargo strengthen its commitment to do just that.”

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