NeighborhoodLIFT® Creates 378 New Homeowners In Atlanta

ATLANTA—Janelle Hall was ready to purchase a home but was concerned about having too much of her income tied up in mortgage payments. An operations manager at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Hall was about to graduate with a communications degree from Mercer University, and she knew her student loan payments would be coming due soon.

She attended a homebuyer education program where she learned there were down payment assistance programs that could help lighten her load. Eventually, she qualified for a mortgage and a $15,000 down payment assistance grant through NeighborhoodLIFT®. She was able to purchase a beautiful three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home in Adams Park, becoming the last of 378 NeighborhoodLIFT homeowners in neighborhoods all across the city of Atlanta.

“Buying this home allowed me to look beyond my current situation and empowered me to improve my financial future,” said Ms. Hall. “And it really means something when you can say you’re a homeowner.”

The NeighborhoodLIFT program is a collaborative program from Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks® America. With Wells Fargo providing the funding and NeighborWorks administering the program, NeighborhoodLIFT programs launched since early 2012 have assisted more than 7,500 homebuyers in 28 cities. Wells Fargo has contributed $220 million to the effort.

In Atlanta, Wells Fargo committed $8 million to the program, with more than $6 million for down payment assistance. About $2 million was spent on the launch of the program and a separate local initiative – providing $1 million for the city’s Centers of Hope.

A total of $1.6 million, including other gifts from Wells Fargo, went to the Centers of Hope. This allowed programming to expand at the centers, which provide after-school programs at community centers emphasizing not just academics but character-building, fitness, and service to surrounding neighborhoods.

With the help of Invest Atlanta, which handled homebuyer qualification and approvals; NeighborWorks affiliate Resources for Residents and Communities (RRC), which provided homebuyer education and counseling; and NeighborWorks Columbus, the nonprofit community lender in the partnership, NeighborhoodLIFT brought new homeowners to neighborhoods across Atlanta.

Ernestine Garey, executive vice president of Invest Atlanta, said the program provided help beyond the creation of hundreds of new homeowners, saying “Every new homeowner in a neighborhood is a positive sign and a beacon that shines on everyone else. We are so pleased to have fostered homeownership through NeighborhoodLIFT.”

Jill Arrington, RRC’s CEO, pointed out one of the important advantages of the program. “Requiring homebuyer education, one of the things RRC did through NeighborhoodLIFT, has been shown to make homeownership more lasting,” she said. “We are happy to have played our part.”

Cathy Williams, President and CEO of NeighborWorks Columbus, said “This program allows NeighborWorks Columbus to expand our reach as a Community Development Financial Institution and work with top-notch partners to ensure its success.”

Local program leaders look toward future

With nearly 400 new homeowners helped, local architects of the program are pleased at the outcome and looking to the future.

“NeighborhoodLIFT has served a great purpose in Atlanta,” said Mike Donnelly, Atlanta region president for Wells Fargo. “It boosted homeownership and helped neighborhoods become more vital at a critical time – after the end of the Great Recession.”

Said Donald Phoenix, regional vice president at NeighborWorks America, “This creative collaboration with NeighborWorks America and Wells Fargo broadens the benefits of homeownership to more people like Janelle who are ready for a mortgage, but need a little ‘lift up’ to achieve their dreams of owning a home. The program also provides education and counseling that prepares consumers with the information they need to be a successful owner.”

Homebuyer assistance is also still available. A number of housing agencies in the metro area administer down payment assistance programs. Ask your real estate agent or mortgage loan officer for help in accessing them. For the city of Atlanta, get in touch with Invest Atlanta at

The NeighborhoodLIFT ® program is collaboration between Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.; Wells Fargo Foundation; NeighborWorks America, an independent non-profit organization’ and local non-profit organizations. The NeighborhoodLIFT® program is designed to provide sustainable homeownership initiatives in cities affected by the housing crisis. A video about the NeighborhoodLIFT® program is posted at

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.6 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet (, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2014 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories.

For more than 35 years, NeighborWorks America has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $22.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

Invest Atlanta is the official economic development authority for the City of Atlanta. Its purpose is to strengthen Atlanta’s economy and global competitiveness in order to create increased opportunity and prosperity for the people of Atlanta.

Chaired by the Mayor of Atlanta, and governed by a nine-member board of directors, Invest Atlanta’s programs and initiatives focus on developing and fostering public/private partnerships to create jobs, grow the economy, revitalize neighborhoods, attract investment, spur innovation, and encourage entrepreneurship. To achieve these goals, Invest Atlanta leverages the benefits of bond financing, revolving loan funds, housing financing, tax increment financing (TIF), and tax credits.

RRC creates sustainable communities through knowledge sharing, community building, housing and economic opportunities with residents at the center of our efforts. As a chartered member of the NeighborWorks network, a HUD Housing Counseling Agency and a NeighborWorks ® HomeOwnership Center, RRC is certified to meet a high standard of fiscal integrity and service performance to assist local residents in developing leadership, improving their neighborhoods, and securing decent, affordable housing.

For more than 10 years, NeighborWorks Columbus (NWC), a non-profit “one-stop-shop,” has worked to provide and promote access to fit and affordable housing and to build family assets for financial independence for all citizens of low to moderate income in the Chattahoochee Valley. NeighborWorks Columbus is a CARS-Rated, HUD-approved and DCA-recognized housing counseling agency.

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APS Superintendent Read For The Record At Toomer

APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen reads Bunny Cakes to Toomer Elementary Pre-K students.


ATLANTA—In celebration of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen and members of her leadership team spent their morning at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School reading Bunny Cakes to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students on October 21, 2014.The book is by bestselling author and illustrator Rosemary Wells.

Carstarphen and her leadership team participated in the annual reading campaign that highlights the need for literacy across America by encouraging adults and children to set a record for the largest shared reading experience. Since 2006, Jumpstart has partnered with the Pearson Foundation on a campaign that brings together millions of Americans in an effort to break the world record for reading the same book on the same day.

At the Imagine It! Children’s Museum of Atlanta, dozens of first grade students from Margaret Fain Elementary participated in a special reading of the same book by the museum’s “imaginator” storytellers, followed by arts and crafts projects with their teachers at the museum. Members of the Atlanta-based Jumpstart Community Corps assisted Fain students with making paper bunny ears of their own. After the arts and crafts, the students were invited to spend “A Day of Play” to explore the museum.

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 106 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit

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