About two years ago, Wells Fargo team member Michael Dunn had an idea. While speaking to team members in Community Development in Denver, he asked if the company had ever sponsored an entire house with local affiliate Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. Nothing came of the conversation at the time, but the Community Development team asked him about it last year. This time, the idea became reality.
Heather Lafferty, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver:
Sheridan Square, which will be the home for 63 Habitat families, is the largest Habitat for Humanity development in the entire state of Colorado.
Wells Fargo provided an initial grant of $250,000, which is what allowed us to purchase this land and begin developing it.
We’ve had thousands of volunteers come out to make this community a place that so many families now can call home.
Branda Bell, Homeowner:
I moved in August 1, 2018. Now being a homeowner, I don’t have to worry about moving every two years. My son, he’s going to have a sense of community. So this has really been a move forward. I feel like I’m living.
Michael Dunn, Wells Fargo Wholesale Banking:
So I’ve been a member of the volunteer chapter in Denver, Colorado, since its inception. I just kind of asked the question, like have we ever built a whole house for one family? We took a look into it and we were able to get funding both from the Team Member Volunteer grant program, and then the contribution committee for Colorado. So, we’ve had tremendous support from leadership across the bank here in Denver. We had people reaching out from all over the bank wanting to participate in a large event like this.
Maria Sepulveda, Wells Fargo Community Relations:
It’s really a source of great pride to be a part of something so impactful. Getting to raise walls and do this kind of stuff is just fun teambuilding, you know, it’s fun to be together.
Keith Lobis, Wells Fargo Consumer Banking:
Transforming lives is one of the reasons that I love working at Wells Fargo. Habitat plays a major role in that, in people’s lives. Coming out here to a build is exciting and inspirational, but when you watch the homeowners and they tell the story of where they’ve come from and where they’re going, that’s really something special.
We are increasing the homeownership rate by 6 percent with these new homes that we’ve built. Homeowners here will collectively pay $77,000 in property taxes. That’s a significant amount of an increase in tax revenue for a small city like Sheridan. And so what Wells Fargo has done means so much. It means so much to the families who they’ve been able to work directly beside, as well as the broader community.
Currently, construction on a house completely sponsored by Wells Fargo is underway in nearby Sheridan, Colorado. It is expected to be completed in December.
“To get here, it adds an extra layer of accomplishment that it’s coming to fruition,” Dunn, a relationship support manager for Wells Fargo’s Government Institutional Banking in Denver, said during one of the first build days of the home. “Whether we’re hammering nails, sawing, or putting up walls, the end goal is to make a family's dream come true and help put a family in that house. This is definitely a big moment for me, the breaking ground we’re starting right now.”
The approximately $150,000 needed to sponsor the house is from the Wells Fargo Foundation, and about $80,000 of that is from a Team Member Volunteer Program grant. As a part of the grant, team members are required to volunteer 1,500 hours. Dunn said the team is hoping to double that and exceed 3,000 hours when the house is completed.
This is just the latest project in Wells Fargo’s 20 years of supporting the Habitat affiliate. Since 1998, Wells Fargo has invested more than $1.38 million in local home construction and repair programs in Denver. More than 780 team members have volunteered almost 9,600 hours.
The house Wells Fargo sponsored is one of the 63 homes built in Sheridan Square, which is 4.35 acres and the largest Habitat for Humanity development in the state of Colorado, said Heather Lafferty, CEO and executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. In November 2015, Wells Fargo provided the initial grant of $250,000 through its Priority Markets Grant program, which allowed Habitat to purchase the land and begin developing it.
“The combination of financial support and volunteer support is so meaningful,” Lafferty said. “There are countless numbers of homes that we’ve built new, as well as ones that we have repaired, so that families can stay in their homes in neighborhoods. So often, Wells Fargo comes in as one of the first funders, especially for a project like Sheridan Square, and then we’re able to leverage what Wells Fargo has invested to attract more donors and more funders to investing in our communities.”
Once the development is complete, Habitat estimates that homeowners will pay $77,000 in annual property taxes and increase the homeownership rate by 6 percent, Lafferty said. The school district will also have hundreds of students attending, as a result.
“Habitat for Humanity is about so much more than a wall and a roof,” Lafferty said. “It’s about changing lives. Our impact is seen for generations. We are now seeing that children growing up in Habitat homes are much more likely to graduate high school and to go on to college. That is transformational. The work that we are doing here today, we are literally building a foundation for a much brighter future.”
Dunn said he has enjoyed seeing the idea he and the Community Development team had come to life. “It’s one of those moments where you’re helping someone accomplish something they worked so hard to achieve,” Dunn said. “We get to play a role in that, whether it’s providing affordable housing through loans, raising money for the project through Habitat, or even just putting the man hours out here and the sweat equity. There are lots of different ways that we’re helping not only this specific family that will live here, but the community as a whole.”