Wells Fargo Launches Recovery and Rebuilding Effort in Paradise, California, and Surrounding Towns

Additional $3.25 million commitment will deliver targeted relief to families, small businesses impacted by devastating wildfires
Jan 25, 2019 1:30 PM ET
Press Release

SAN FRANCISCO, January 25, 2019 /3BL Media/ Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) today announced that the company will provide an additional $3.25 million in financial resources to residents, small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Butte County, California, to address critical housing and economic challenges that remain after devastating wildfires spread across the county last year.

Wells Fargo’s donation will be distributed to the Butte Strong Fund held by the North Valley Community Foundation, which is working to meet needs in Chico, Paradise and other towns.

“The resilient spirit in these towns is inspiring, but we know that this optimism needs to be met with financial resources and community support,” said Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo CEO. “As a company with headquarters in California, we stand with the residents of Butte County. Wells Fargo wants to be part of the long-term recovery efforts to rebuild Paradise and beyond, as communities emerge even stronger than before.”

This commitment is in addition to the $2.8 million already contributed by Wells Fargo to wildfire disaster relief in the state in 2018. Since then, Wells Fargo has deployed its Mobile Response Unit to assist customers with disaster relief and insurance check processing and hosted a Community Day in Chico, California to honor community leaders and those providing direct and immediate relief efforts.

Wells Fargo volunteers also assembled care kits for first responders and wrote letters of support to those affected. Additional Wells Fargo volunteers are gathering with community leaders today to distribute meals for area residents.

“For many years, Wells Fargo has supported the Paradise Community in a multitude of ways,” said Jody Jones, mayor of Paradise. “This incredible donation showcases their continuing generosity and actively assists Paradise as we embark on our recovery and rebuilding. It means a great deal to the town, the residents and the businesses to know that we have such a generous partner for the long haul.”

Chico Mayor Randall Stone said, “Again, Wells Fargo demonstrates their commitment to our community with this generous contribution to our local business and housing recovery efforts. It is heartwarming to know one of our affordable housing lenders is so dedicated to our recovery and prosperity — at a time when Butte County most needs it.”

The support from Wells Fargo, to be implemented in conjunction with the Butte Strong Fund, will focus on two urgent needs: housing and small business recovery. These needs have been identified in concert with community leaders, nonprofits and Butte Strong Fund administrators to meet the most pressing needs. The model of the Butte Strong Fund is to invest in nonprofit organizations and agencies directly providing services to people impacted by the Camp Fire.

“We appreciate the commitment Wells Fargo has made to helping our communities rebuild after the Camp Fire,” said Doug Teeter, vice chair of the Butte County Board of Supervisors. “Wells Fargo has been a long-standing partner in our communities. They stepped in early after the fire to assist businesses and reopened their branch in Paradise. We commend Wells Fargo for the inspiration their generous contribution will have on families and businesses recovering in the Town of Paradise and Butte County's communities.”

Housing assistance

The first phase of Wells Fargo’s efforts will go toward meeting the community’s needs regarding shelter for residents displaced by the Camp Fire. With $2 million, the fund will focus on:

  • The transition of final evacuees who are currently staying in the temporary Red Cross Shelter. As this shelter closes at the end of January, funds will be used to provide case management, housing readiness and services to 728 individuals who need stable housing with the least amount of disruption and to fully integrate them into support services.
  • Of the 728 in transition, Wells Fargo will subsidize rent for up to 300 displaced families going into temporary housing for up to six months to help reduce stress and financial strain.
  • Funds allocated by Wells Fargo will also provide up to 100 units of temporary workforce and senior housing to retain the local workforce to stabilize businesses and ensure individuals with fixed incomes are secure.

“The initial support from Wells Fargo to our community in the immediate aftermath of the Camp Fire was deeply impactful,” said Alexa Benson-Valavanis, president and CEO of the North Valley Community Foundation. “But pledging to support the long and difficult road to recovery is a testament to Wells Fargo’s leadership and their profound commitment to our region. We are so grateful for their partnership in the Butte Strong Fund. We will get through this, together!”

Small business relief and recovery

In addition to housing assistance, Wells Fargo will help address the urgent needs of local small businesses in the disaster area that are recovering from the impact of the wildfires. A dedicated $1.25 million will go towards infusing working capital back into the community and to help businesses reopen. Wells Fargo will work with Butte County leaders on rebuilding through partnerships with organizations such as 3CORE, a local Community Development Financial Institution. Support includes:

  • Loan capital earmarked for long-term business recovery plans, such as needs for infrastructure, staff, inventory, equipment and other assistance.
  • Enhanced capacity to provide on-the-ground outreach to small businesses and get funds into the hands of small business owners more quickly.
  • Recovery initiatives to help small business owners with short-term and mid-term capital to address unmet credit needs as they rebuild and retain local jobs.

“Wells Fargo has a strong history of philanthropic and programmatic support in our region,” said 3CORE CEO Patty Hess. “This investment further illustrates their commitment on a variety of initiatives related to economic development and housing. These long-term recovery dollars will further assist 3CORE’s efforts in providing essential capital to businesses affected by the Camp Fire and aid in addressing the regional economic impacts resulting from the disaster. We estimate these funds will assist in the retention of over 100 local jobs, further stabilizing our regional economy. This Wells Fargo funding continues to make a meaningful difference in the communities we serve.”

Long-term efforts

With tax season fast approaching, Wells Fargo also recognizes the burden of tax returns on residents in Butte County affected by the wildfires and will work with local organizations to deliver tax refund assistance and help residents navigate the complexity of filing from within a disaster area.

Over the next six to 12 months, Wells Fargo will continue to address the mid-term to long-term housing needs of displaced residents of Paradise. By working through the Butte Strong Fund, Wells Fargo will expand workforce housing and offer aid in the planning and design of Paradise’s reconstruction.

In addition, Wells Fargo team members will be on hand throughout the year volunteering alongside community partners like Habitat for Humanity and others to repair and rebuild temporary and long-term housing.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,800 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 37 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 259,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 26 on Fortune’s 2018 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.