A new program in Indianapolis is offering low and middle income families $15,000 for down payments on a house.
The initiative hopes to spark life into downtrodden neighborhoods.
Wells Fargo is contributing $4.5 million through its NeighborhoodLift program for down payment assistance grants.
Those eligible must have annual incomes at 120 percent or less of the Indianapolis area median income – which is about $77,000 or a family of four.
Kim Smith, with Wells Fargo, says the program is a way to address the local housing crisis.
"We are looking at the housing crisis, right? We are trying to say 'hey, it's not going to take a silver bullet, it's going to take a huge collaborative effort,'" she said. "That's why when we came to this city the first thing we did was talk to the mayor and then we pull in the nonprofits and hopefully this will spark something with other major lenders or banks to do something similar."
The NeighborhoodLift program is having a free event for prospective homebuyers Sept. 26 and 27 at the Indiana Convention Center.
To get the grant, families need pre approval, which they can receive at the event.
If approved, they must find a home within 60 days.
Maria Wright, 62, is one of the prospective homeowners.
She is saving for a place to live for her daughter and grandchildren and says the NeighborhoodLift program is exactly what she needs to move forward in buying her own home.
"What a blessing and what a miracle and what a surprise," Wright said of the program. "I thought I would never be able to accomplish providing a home, a forever home for my grandchildren and my daughter."
"The dream can become reality. It has for me," she said.
Wells Fargo expects the program to help 250 people get into homes. The bank also is donating a half a million dollars to stabilization efforts in Indianapolis communities.
Wells Fargo has been accused of better maintaining bank owned properties in mostly white neighborhoods than they do in predominantly minority neighborhoods.
Last year, the bank reached a $27 million settlement with 19 cities across the country, including Indianapolis which received about $1.4 million.
But, Executive Director of the Mapleton Fall Creek neighborhood, Leigh Riley Evans, says she has seen a shift in Wells Fargo’s practices and credits them with trying to create homeownership in all communities.
"They have done so with their marketing. They have done so with their financial support and this third example with the NeighborhoodLift program," said Evans. "There is now $15,000 available for down payment assistance to support the homeowner and that is a huge amount of money that can make a difference for an individual looking for a forever home for their family."