$1 Billion For Housing

Wells Fargo will commit $1 billion through 2025 to help address housing affordability, led by a former Ford Foundation executive.

The San Francisco, Calif.-based bank today announced that Brandee McHale will become head of corporate philanthropy, leading the Wells Fargo Foundation, effective Aug. 1. Most recently, she was head of corporate citizenship at Citigroup Inc. and president of the Citi Foundation. Previously, McHale developed a portfolio of investments at the Ford Foundation designed to help low-income households achieve financial success. She will succeed Jon Campbell, head of corporate philanthropy and community relations, who previously announced his retirement at the end of this year.

The $1 billion in philanthropy will span homelessness, available and affordable rentals, transitional housing and homeownership, according to Campbell, president of the foundation. “America’s housing affordability isn’t restricted to a few cities on the East and West coasts,” he said via a press release.

Wells Fargo estimated that it donated $444 million last year to more than 11,000 nonprofits. Beginning in 2019, Wells Fargo is targeting 2 percent of after-tax profits for corporate philanthropy, which focuses on three areas: housing affordability, small business growth and financial help. The bank will continue its local giving in communities in which it operates, in areas such as education, arts and culture, Campbell said.

Through its business and the Wells Fargo Foundation, the company will use its philanthropic resources, business expertise, and collaborations with public-private sector organizations, to develop, active and scale new ideas that help solve national community challenges, said CEO Allen Parker.

Wells Fargo dedicated more than $117 million to affordable housing last year, including $75 million to expand NeighborhoodLIFT, a homeownership program for low- and moderate-income communities with NeighborWorks America to nine markets last year. In 2019, the program will reach 10 additional cities.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University estimates that nearly one-third of U.S. households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing and 18 million commit more than 50 percent for a safe place to live, according to the announcement.

Wells Fargo has ramped up its corporate philanthropy in recent years, following scandals involving the creation of millions of unauthorized accounts and overcharging homeowners for appraisals on defaulted mortgages, leading to millions of dollars in fines.