It's called CityLIFT and for those who qualified, it's a life-changing experience. As many as 1,000 people are expected to go through the two-day event at the Marriott before it ends Saturday evening. For those who qualify for the down payment assistance, it may prove to be the last piece, the one that finally allows them to buy a home.
Wells Fargo is reaching out to hundreds of Bay Area families trying to help them with $20,000 toward a down payment on the purchase of a home. Shawn Coleman lined up at 6 a.m. and was one of the first to find out he qualified. Asked if it was an exciting day for him he laughingly said, "Yes it is, most exciting thing. It's better than a birthday."
Wells Fargo is making $5 million available to prospective homebuyers in nine East Bay cities including Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Concord, Antioch, Pittsburg, Richmond, Brentwood, and Bay Point. Not everyone who applies will qualify. Applicants must have a consistent income and strong credit history.
Oakland's Devine Johnson went through the process only to find out she came up a bit short. Asked if she was disappointed she said, "Slightly, but encouraged that there are other programs out there that I can possibly continue my journey on home ownership."
For those who do qualify, the entire $20,000 will be forgiven if the buyer stays in their home for at least five years, or pro-rated, 20 percent per year of residence. "So, the goal is to make sure that we don't necessarily have people jumping in and flipping properties, but that literally stay there," said Jim Foley with Wells Fargo.
The East Bay CityLIFT program is part of a national effort by Wells Fargo to comply with a 2012 court settlement with the Department of Justice. "They chose to do this and we're very appreciative of that choice because it's going to make a difference ultimately, in our neighborhoods," said Gilda Gonzales with the Unity Council.
People who did not qualify for $20,000 can still receive help at the event in the form of more information about resources that are available and information on classes they can attend. The event goes until 7 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.