Good morning, and thank you for that generous introduction. I am honored to be here with Attorney General Madigan, who has been a national leader among state attorneys general in the wake of the housing crisis. She is a zealous advocate on behalf of the people of Illinois and a valuable partner in the fight against discrimination and in protecting the rights of consumers.
And I am honored to be here with Jon and the Wells Fargo team for this important announcement for the City of Chicago. In recent months, I have spent considerable time with Michael Heid, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. We have a shared commitment to expanding access to sustainable home ownership, and rebuilding communities that have been adversely affected by the foreclosure crisis. I am grateful for his personal, active involvement in our case.
I applaud Wells Fargo for taking the necessary steps to create CityLIFT. As the Attorney General said, the Department reached a fair lending agreement with Wells Fargo in July. Under that settlement, Wells Fargo agreed to directly compensate individual families and also committed to develop the CityLIFT program.
Here in the Chicago-area, this program will help qualified families realize the dream of homeownership. Later this month, residents of Chicago and many surrounding neighborhoods will have the opportunity to apply for down payment assistance, to be used toward the purchase of a new home. When the program opens, potential homebuyers who obtain mortgage financing from any qualified lender will be able to apply for such assistance. You do not have to be a Wells customer to participate in this program.
The foreclosure crisis has devastated communities across the nation and we have a shared interest in helping those communities rebuild. For these communities to recover it will take the combined forces of federal, state, and local government, the lending industry, and community-based organizations working together. And we will all benefit when all our communities are rebuilt and become vibrant places once more.
The CityLIFT program is an example of one such collaborative effort. No one program can solve all the challenges our communities face, but programs such as CityLIFT that provide families access to sustainable homeownership are critical. Helping qualified homebuyers access credit and homeownership is an investment in an entire community.
And Wells Fargo has agreed to invest in CityLIFT programs in seven of the hardest hit communities across the country: metropolitan Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Baltimore; the bay area of Oakland-San Francisco; New York City; Cleveland; and Riverside/San Bernadino/Ontario, California.
I commend Wells Fargo for implementing strong fair lending policies, including the CityLIFT program. I have been impressed with their leadership and believe that we will continue to work in a collaborative fashion, alongside the State of Illinois and communities like Chicago. We have a shared interest in ensuring equal credit opportunity for everyone.
At the Civil Rights Division, we value partnerships like this one because they are fundamental to achieving our shared goals. Attorney General Madigan said that all of us have a role in the difficult task of improving our communities, and I could not agree more.
That is why we have made fair lending enforcement a top priority for the Division. We created a Fair Lending Unit and have handled more fair lending cases than ever during the past two years. And we have reached historic agreements with lenders like Wells Fargo that are investing to expand opportunity in neighborhoods across the country.
It is an honor to continue that work and to be here today. I look forward to hearing what Jon has to say about the program. Thank you.