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Claudia Askew, Marketing & PR Planner and Madelyn Lazorchak, Communications Writer02/17/2022

In Texas, two kids have their own rooms for the very first time. In Alaska, a couple is able to open their home to friends. In Minnesota, a chef is glad to finally have a place of her own. These are a few examples of residents who have purchased their homes with the help of NeighborhoodLIFT – for Let's Invest for Tomorrow – a collaboration among NeighborWorks America, local NeighborWorks network organizations and Wells Fargo

A LIFT image shows a woman leaving a building with text celebrating the mark of 25,000 homeowners.The program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, has helped more than 25,000 people into homes of their own in 81 communities by providing down payment assistance. The program has invested nearly $400 million nationwide.

"Working with Wells Fargo on the LIFT program, we have over 10 years of investment in communities and making sure people have the opportunity to pursue the dream of homeownership," says Marietta Rodriguez, NeighborWorks America's president & CEO. 

Rodriguez credits local NeighborWorks network organizations, which provide homebuyer education and administer the down payment assistance funds, for the program's success. "Without the hard work and commitment of the local organizations, LIFT would not be possible, she says.

"When Wells Fargo created the NeighborhoodLIFT program a decade ago there were challenges in homeownership, and the struggles are still there today so housing affordability remains important," said Robyn Luhning, interim head of Social impact and Sustainability at Wells Fargo. "Wells Fargo is proud to have helped change lives by creating more than 25,000 homeowners nationwide with NeighborWorks America since the start of the program. Homeownership can be an enduring path to a stable home and lasting wealth."

The program began in 2012, a response to the Great Recession of 2008, in which over six million U.S.

The Haleys work on renovations after purchasing their home.
households lost their homes to foreclosure. NeighborWorks and Wells Fargo wanted to work to help families rebuild, increasing homeownership in underserved communities. 

The Bay Area, which includes San Jose, is a high-priced housing market where modest-income buyers often struggle to find affordable homes. LIFT down payment assistance helped address this issue. Previous rounds of the program resulted in more than 500 homeowners in the area, and the current round, which launched in February 2021, is helping an additional 350 people purchase homes.

"The Neighborhood LIFT program has been a vital collaboration in advancing affordable housing solutions and bringing the dignity of homeownership to hundreds of local residents," says San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "Through this program, participants gained the education and support to achieve stable, permanent housing and I applaud this program on 10 years of success."

Research conducted using credit bureau data provided by Experian has shown that homebuyers who receive NeighborWorks homebuyer education and counseling are 30% less likely to get in trouble with their mortgage, making homeownership more sustainable over time. The program also includes counseling, where new homebuyers work one-on-one at no charge with a HUD-approved housing counselor. 

"As a first-time homebuyer, learning all the terms was like learning a different language," recalls
Amanda Bridgewater was ready for a new home.
Amanda Bridgewater, a nurse in Houston, Texas, who purchased her home in 2019. "The course explained what it all meant and what I was getting myself into." 

Bridgewater said she wanted to buy a home so that her children could have their own rooms. They do now, she says, plus a dog. 

Carissa Haley and her husband, Mike, were all ready to buy a house in Alaska after months of saving. When they finally found a home they could afford on the border of Chugiak and Eagle River, they had enough for the down payment – until they found the septic system needed replacing. 

Carissa Haley had always wanted horses. Now that she owns her home, she has two.
They applied for LIFT, eligible for $12,500 because of Mike Haley's job as a first responder. Now, they're in their home with three dogs and two horses. Carissa Haley says that growing up, her house was full of friends and family. Now that she has a home of her own, "I'm glad to be able to carry on the hospitality my parents always had when I was growing up," she says.  
One of Carissa Haley's horses stands in the Alaska snow.

Folashade Ogundeji, a chef who rented in Minnesota for two decades before buying her own home in St. Paul through NeighborhoodLIFT, sums up the best thing about homeownership in four words. "It is my own," she says.  


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