David Galasso with Wells Fargo speaks at the California Economic Summit Friday in Fresno. Photo by Edward Smith

published on November 8, 2019 - 1:17 PM
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A partnership between Wells Fargo and nonprofit organization California Forward announced today at the California Economic Summit in Fresno aims to overcome affordable housing challenges and make sure the billions of dollars being poured into the state are being used effectively.

In a statement directly prior to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s keynote address Friday morning, David Galasso, lead president for Wells Fargo’s Greater California Region, announced a $400,000 investment into California Forward to develop region-specific plans to use affordable housing money effectively in areas throughout the state.

The effort by the banking giant is part of a plan to “narrow its focus” on housing affordability, financial health and small business growth, according to Galasso.

“By narrowing our focus, we’re convinced we can help more people and help more families facing financial hardships and unlock the economic stability and prosperity for communities experiencing the greatest disparities,” Galasso said.

Housing has long been identified as one of California’s greatest challenges.

With legislation such as 2017’s Building Homes and Jobs Act and investment from private companies, there are billions of dollars available, but not always plans for how to execute that money, said Micah Weinberg, CEO of California Forward.

“We have a lot of money, but we don’t necessarily have the best way to leverage that in the best way for the people of Fresno,” Weinberg said.

The money will go toward developing an “action plan” for different regions.

The study will be done over the next year, he said.

In combination with real estate data from the banking giant and resources from California Forward, the partnership will create a plan “so you can marry that in-depth, on-the-ground narrative with market data,” Weinberg said.

The study will also help the bank better direct investment dollars, said Kären Woodruff, vice president of corporate philanthropy and community relations for northern and central California Wells Fargo.

“If they can’t have a home, that is literally the bridge to everything,” Woodruff said. Wells Fargo has put $1 billion nationwide into affordable housing as either philanthropy or investment, she said.

“$400,000 is just a catalyst,” Galasso said. “The real point is using the billions of dollars going toward housing in the most effective way possible.”

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