Wells Fargo Works With Community Organizations to Find Innovative Solutions for Affordable Housing

Thursday, August 20, 2020

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(Orange County Business Journal)

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

Combating the affordable housing crisis is a long game and municipalities, developers, and community organizations are working together to find innovative and scalable solutions to address local and national housing affordability concerns.

In 2019, Wells Fargo — a gold-level Leaders Circle sponsor of the Greater Irvine Chamber — committed $1 billion in philanthropy through 2025 to address the U.S. housing affordability crisis, including homelessness, available and affordable rentals, transitional housing, and home ownership.

Addressing concerns locally, the Orange County Wells Fargo Foundation has given $275,000 to support Mercy House, a nonprofit leading the charge in housing affordability solutions.

Mercy House provides temporary and permanent housing opportunities, programs, and services to the regions homeless population and works with various community organizations to use existing land for redevelopment in efforts to create sustainable and affordable housing. Although membership has waned, faith-based organizations remain steadfast in social good and Mercy House is exploring the use of church land for affordable housing developments both theoretically and for practical implementation.

With $75,000 in support from Wells Fargo, Mercy House is working with a team of researchers at University of California, Irvine (UCI) to publish a white paper on how to galvanize support on land use with faith-based organizations. The research, scheduled for release in September 2020, will explore the processes that lead to successful faith-based redevelopment projects, examine how to scale and replicate successful models of supportive housing in communities with scarce land resources, and serve as key research for the UCI Livable Cities Lab and drive future research on land use and affordable housing development.

“If we are ever going to meet the need of providing housing for all income levels, we are going to have to get creative with both existing and new resources,” said Larry Haynes, executive director, Mercy House. “The joint study between Mercy House and UCI will examine our innovative engagement with the faith community as a resource to assist with the production of affordable housing and provide critical feedback to enable us to expand our housing stock for the most vulnerable populations.”

According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, no state or metro in the U.S. has enough affordable rental inventory to meet the existing demand for its lowest-income residents.

In response to this, Mercy House is developing an affordable housing complex in Santa Ana called Legacy Square. The multi-million-dollar collaboration with the City of Santa Ana, Santa Ana United Methodist Church, Mercy House, and National Community Renaissance, will address the community needs for: affordable housing, tailored support services of evidence-based programs to advance resident families, high quality design, and safe, healthy, environmental-friendly buildings.

With $100,000 in support from Wells Fargo, the 93-unit building will have housing available for low-to-moderate income individuals and a portion of units will be designated for permanent supportive housing for the region’s most vulnerable populations. Legacy Square will come equipped with a community center, playgrounds, landscaped courtyards, and more.

Affordable housing is at a crisis point and individuals and families everywhere are sacrificing necessities like food, healthcare, and educational opportunities in order to afford a place to live. Wells Fargo aims to bring community stakeholders and local and national nonprofits together to better understand and address the full spectrum of housing affordability needs. Together with community partners, Wells Fargo is combining financial resources, fact-based research, and business expertise to make a greater impact.


Category: Partner News, Community News, Member News