$7.5M Wells Fargo grant to expand housing equality in Central Virginia

LISC VA, housing programs hope to establish 5,000 homeowners of color by 2025
A $7.5 million grant from Wells Fargo aims to expand equal housing opportunities for aspiring homeowners of color in Central Virginia.
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A $7.5 million grant from Wells Fargo aims to expand equal housing opportunities for aspiring homeowners of color in Central Virginia.

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

“In the errors that were made from a public policy - from a private banking - it was very intentional. [It] kept African-Americans and Latinos out of the housing market so we need to be as intentional in trying to solve those problems,” Otis Rolley, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation, said.

The effort gained support from local leaders like Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham, Henrico County manager 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,” John Vithoulkas said.

Becoming a homeowner was a life-long goal Nena Coleman struggled to reach.

“I didn’t know the invisible barriers that stood before me. I knew that I wanted to leave my daughter something - a legacy for her,” Coleman said.

She was able to overcome those barriers thanks to local housing programs.

Some helping push the initiative forward include:

  • Better Housing Coalition
  • Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation
  • Virginia Housing
  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia
  • Richmond Association of Realtors
  • Partnership of Housing Affordability
  • Crater Planning District Commission
  • PlanRVA

Wells Fargo reports loan denial rates for Black and multi-racial applicants sit at 17%, nearly double what White applicants (9%) see in the Richmond Region.

“We have seen tremendous growth over the last few years as a city, but we have to ensure that as we grow that our growth is equitable,” Mayor Stoney said.

Partnering organizations plan to offer resources, such as credit repairs 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 in which to achieve homeownership, and that’s what we really want to do. We want to give them those opportunities,” Susan Dewey, CEO of Virginia Housing, said.

The groups hope to gain more financial support as leaders work to establish even more homeowners in the years to come.