On Wednesday, Wells Fargo  announced that it would commit $1 billion in philanthropy through 2025 to address the U.S. housing affordability crisis,
The funds would go towards tackling housing issues such as homelessness, available and affordable rentals, transitional housing, and homeownership, the bank said.
The commitment is part of Wells Fargo's updated philanthropic strategy to use funds towards addressing three critical issues— housing affordability, financial health, and small business growth.
“Wells Fargo is focused on creating a path to stability and financial success for individuals and families that lack access to affordable housing, tools to manage financial health and capital for small business growth,” said Allen Parker, interim CEO and President of Wells Fargo, in a statement. “Together, we can help spark systemic change and economic development for underserved communities. When people start businesses, build wealth and are able to afford homes in their neighborhood, communities thrive.”
Wells Fargo, citing a study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, said that nearly one-third of U.S. households spent more than 30% of their income on housing. Another 18 million people committed more than 50% of their income for a safe place to live.
It further cited data from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition which found that no state or metro in the U.S. had enough affordable rental inventory to meet existing demand; and the Urban Institute which reported that 54 million rural residents were living in areas with a most severe or moderately severe need for more affordable housing.
To address challenges in construction, financing and support services for low- and moderate-income families, the elderly and the homeless, Wells Fargo said that it was also launching a $20 million Housing Affordability Challenge grant aimed at uncovering new, more rapid ways to increase the availability and sustainability of affordable housing.
“America’s housing affordability crisis isn’t restricted to cities on the East and West Coasts,” said Jon Campbell, head of Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations at Wells Fargo. “Families everywhere are sacrificing necessities like food, healthcare, and education in order to afford a place to live. Wells Fargo will bring local and national nonprofits and policy leaders together to better understand and address the full spectrum of housing affordability— from homelessness to rental housing to homeownership—and unlock more housing options for those in need.”