Chuck Bishop, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending Diverse Segments
Chuck Bishop, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending Diverse Segments

For Chuck Bishop, the path to homeownership is personal. He didn鈥檛 live in a house until he became an adult and bought his own.聽

As a native of the District of Columbia, he is extremely passionate about helping people get on the path to homeownership. 

Bishop, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending Diverse Segments, watched his own mother live in the same apartment for the last 42 years and pay a total of $907,000 in rent. 鈥淪he paid someone else鈥檚 mortgage when she could have grown her own personal assets,鈥 Bishop said. 鈥淚 see firsthand the wealth that’s being taken out of our community. My goal is to help more people not have that experience.鈥 

In his role, it is Bishop鈥檚 job to expand homeownership opportunities for the underserved communities, which includes people of color and individuals with low to moderate incomes.

鈥淲hile it sounds really simplistic, it really is just that. We have to do the work. I say that because I have the luxury of working for a company that is really committed to this work,鈥 Bishop said. 

As Bishop sees it, homeownership is critical for a lot of reasons. 鈥淔or one, we know that homeownership is the beginning of the creation of wealth. Most people use their homeownership journey as a passageway to legacy opportunities,鈥 Bishop said adding, that some families aim to pass their property to their heirs. 鈥淚t is often the biggest purchase that many people make, so it also requires some financial discipline.鈥

Bishop added that social impacts of homeownership exist, and studies 鈥 including 鈥 have shown that children who grow up in a home where their parents are homeowners often do better in school, have a higher graduation rate and a lower truancy rate than children of parents who rent. Those children are also less likely to suffer from severe childhood disease and sickness. 

Even the small things can make a difference, such as being able to paint walls as you like them and hanging items where you would like them in your home. 鈥淚 didn鈥檛 have such luxuries growing up,鈥 Bishop said. 

In his day-to-day work, Bishop can be creative in how he reaches potential customers. He works to bring an informed approach to the marketplace, such as tailored marketing campaigns and educational outreach. He also works with external stakeholders, such as government entities, ethnic real estate organizations and other industry trades. 

Internally, his team engages with sales partners and other departments to do what is necessary to have success in the space that he is in. 

Bishop says there is lots of work that needs to be done to close the significant gap between white, non-Hispanic and minority homeownership rates that have already existed for decades. In the black community, 鈥淚t is as wide as it was when discrimination was legal,鈥 Bishop said of the homeownership gap. 鈥淚t speaks for the need to do continued work in this space.鈥

Bishop spoke of the policies that existed in years past that did not allow for equity in homeownership. Some deeds couldn鈥檛 be transferred to persons of color and the government would not insure loans in communities that housed black people. 鈥淭here was purposeful redlining done. When you think about it, the homeownership race was started with unequal opportunities, and they lasted for decades, it鈥檚 really hard to catch up today,鈥 Bishop said. 

In an effort to overcome that gap, Wells Fargo announced a new initiative in April 2022 that included the development of a Special Purpose Credit Program in which the bank committed a $150 million investment initially aimed at helping eligible Black homeowners with mortgages serviced by the institution to lower their interest rates and reduce monthly mortgage payments without extending their loan term. 鈥淲e also recognize sustainability. It鈥檚 not just about putting people in homes, it鈥檚 keeping people in homes who already have them,鈥 Bishop said. 

The rate and one-time expenses, such as non-recurring closing costs and the VA funding fee (if applicable), were subsidized by Wells Fargo. More than 2,000 customers have been helped by the program as of May 2023. 

Earlier this year, Wells Fargo announced it would launch a Special Purpose Credit Program aimed at helping purchase customers. Other Wells Fargo initiatives include, investing an additional $100 million to advance racial equity in homeownership, including partnering with non-profit organizations and community-focused engagements, deploying additional Home Mortgage Consultants in local minority communities and donating more than $390 million to help address housing affordability in the country since 2019. 

The bank, through its foundation, also established the Wealth Opportunities Restored through Homeownership, or WORTH, grant program, a $60 million national effort to address systematic barriers to homeownership for people of color. Wells Fargo also recently announced the expansion of the Dream. Plan. Home.SM closing cost credit program, which provides eligible borrowers with an income at or below 80 percent of the area median income where the property is located up to $5,000 to use toward closing costs in certain markets. 

The company also announced Growing Diverse Housing Developers, a $40 million grant initiative focused on expanding the growth and success of real estate developers of color, including Black and Latino-owned firms. 

鈥淲e are using our resources to empower those who are in the community doing that work,鈥 Bishop said. 鈥淚 can鈥檛 tell you the joy I get out of making a difference in someone鈥檚 life when we can create programs and see the tangible effects it has, whether it鈥檚 moving the needle in a certain geography for homeownership or from a single family saying, 鈥楾hank you. We didn鈥檛 know we had an opportunity to become homeowners.鈥欌

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  1. I hope Mr. Bishop is also working to end the racial divide in valuing homes for appraisals. That’s just the latest wrinkle in the continuing discrimination in home buying.

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