$7.5 Million Wells Fargo Grant to Expand Housing Equity in Central Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – A $7.5 million grant from Wells Fargo aims to expand equal housing opportunity for aspiring homeowners of color in central Virginia.

At a press conference on Friday, the big check was handed over to LISC Virginia, which plans to partner with housing organizations to help minorities get a foot in the door of their new homes.

“In the mistakes that were made from a public policy – from a private bank – it was very intentional. [It] has kept African Americans and Latinos out of the housing market, so we have to be as intentional about trying to address these issues,” said Otis Rolley, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation.

The effort has won support from local leaders such as Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham, Henrico County Executive John Vithoulkas and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, echoing the need for change.

“If we don’t make a difference in homeownership in the BIPOC community. I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said John Vithoulkas.

Becoming a landlord was a lifelong goal that Nena Coleman struggled to achieve.

“I did not know the invisible barriers that stood before me. I knew I wanted to leave something for my daughter – a legacy for her,” Coleman said. She was able to overcome these obstacles thanks to local housing programs.

Some of them are helping to move the initiative forward:

  • Coalition for Better Housing
  • Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation
  • Accommodation in Virginia
  • Equal Housing Opportunities in Virginia
  • Richmond Realtors Association
  • Housing Affordability Partnership
  • Crater District Planning Commission
  • RVA plan

Wells Fargo reports that loan rejection rates for black and multiracial applicants are 17%, nearly double what white applicants (9%) see in the Richmond area.

“We’ve grown tremendously over the past few years as a city, but we need to make sure that as we grow, our growth is equitable,” Mayor Stoney said.

Partner organizations plan to offer resources, such as credit repair, and educational opportunities to help 5,000 people of color become homeowners by 2025.

“When you look at the BIPOC community, many of whom are first-generation homebuyers, they haven’t been exposed to some of the ways to access homeownership and that’s what we really want to do. We want to give them those opportunities,” said Susan Dewey, CEO of Virginia Housing.

The groups hope to secure more financial support as leaders work to establish even more landlords in the coming years.

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