Affordable Housing

Wells Fargo launches alliance with AREAA to promote homeownership

AREAA is the largest Asian American membership organization promoting sustainable homeownership opportunities in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities

As part of its broader affordable housing initiatives, Wells Fargo will sponsor a homeownership program alongside the Asian Real Estate Association of America.

The Wells Fargo-AREAA alliance will focus specifically on sustainable homeownership for first-time homebuyers and low to moderate-income Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities.

AREAA found in its annual report that 72% of White Americans own homes. Yet, there are several Asian subcategories where homeownership is 55% or less, including Native Hawaiian, Indonesian, Korean, Pakistani, Hmong, Sri Lankan, Burmese, Bangladeshi, and Nepalese.

Additionally, the initiative will also feature a housing affordability symposium as well as regional events across the U.S. for homebuyers.

“We are committed to being a part of the solution and breaking down the systemic barriers that make homeownership more difficult to attain,” said Valeria Esparza-Chavez, head of Home Lending, Asian Segment at Wells Fargo.

The partnership comes after the bank was hit by several scandals related to its lending practices.

The bank repeatedly misapplied loan payments, wrongfully foreclosed on homes, illegally repossessed vehicles and charged surprise overdraft fees, affecting 16 million customers’ accounts, according to the CFPB. Wells Fargo eventually agreed to pay $1.7 billion to settle multiple consent orders last December.

Additionally, Bloomberg reported in March 2022 that only 47% of Black homeowners who completed a refinance application with Wells Fargo in 2020 were approved, compared with 72% of white homeowners. (The bank denied any wrongdoing.)

Since then, Wells Fargo announced plans to invest an additional $100 million to advance racial equity through its $210 million special purpose credit program.

Earlier in April, the bank announced a 10-year partnership with Dallas megachurch affiliate T.D. Jakes Group to build “inclusive communities.”

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