Wells Fargo $1 million grant to strengthen rural communities

Wells Fargo $1 million grant to strengthen rural communities

The FINANCIAL -- Wells Fargo & Company announced on July 27 the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation will donate $1 million to NeighborWorks America and serve as lead funder of the national nonprofit’s new Safe and Sound rural initiative. The collaborative effort aims to help strengthen nine rural communities and improve lives by rehabilitating or replacing 50 substandard owner-occupied homes.

Through the Safe and Sound rural initiative, NeighborWorks America will award $128,500 to each of nine nonprofits as part of the overall $1.2 million program.

The grants will enable recipients to bring substandard rural homes up to state and federal housing codes through rehabilitation or replacement with Energy Star-rated factory-built homes.  The revitalization effort will also focus on increasing energy efficiency and improving air and water quality in each of the homes, according to Wells Fargo.

NeighborWorks America’s Safe and Sound rural initiative grants were awarded as part of a competitive application process held earlier this year with criteria including feasibility, capacity, work quality, Green standards and removing health risks for the homeowner.

NeighborWorks America’s training curriculum in housing rehabilitation, green applications and development with factory-built housing will be made available to the grant recipients.

“Wells Fargo is delighted to team with Neighborworks America with this commitment to revitalize homes in rural communities,” said Connie Wright, assistant director, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. “While we are encouraged to see improvement in many housing markets, sustainable and affordable housing continues to be a critical need in communities of all sizes. We understand we can’t solve these challenges on our own and when the public and private sector work together it can add up to make a huge difference for the community.”

The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation grant to the Safe and Sound initiative comes as a new survey from NeighborWorks America suggests that adults in rural regions of the United States are not as satisfied as their counterparts in urban and suburban areas. According to the  study, rural residents generally feel worse about their local economy and job outlook than the national average with just one-third  rating their economy and job situation as better than the national average. This compares to 48 percent of suburban residents and 57 percent of urban dwellers feeling positive about their local economy and job outlook.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 20 percent of people and 5.3 million veterans live in rural regions in the United States.

David Dangler, director of the Rural Initiative at NeighborWorks America, said, “NeighborWorks America is working hard to invest in upgrading homes in rural areas and spotlight the unique challenges of adults in rural parts of the country. We are also making rural homes more energy efficient, so fewer people have to make tough choices between food or fuel.”