SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- U.S. multinational bank Wells Fargo & Company is donating 5.4 million U.S. dollars in grants to 15 legal assistance organizations to keep people and families housed through services and advocacy efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the news release from the company on Thursday.
The company said in the release that up to 40 million U.S. renters impacted by the COVID-19-related economic downturn could face eviction once federal rental protections end, according to research from the Aspen Institute and the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.
Wells Fargo argued that lack of legal representation for low-income people is a glaring equity gap. Harvard researchers found an estimated 90 percent of landlords have legal representation, while only 10 percent of tenants do, putting them at a significant disadvantage.
People of color, particularly Black and Hispanic tenants, represent 80 percent of people at risk of eviction, according to the Aspen Institute.
"Preventing evictions and preserving the rights of tenants are major racial justice issues, given our country's long history of segregation and the inequalities that play out in our current housing system," said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project.
In response to the emerging crisis and as part of its 175 million U.S. dollar commitment to COVID relief, Wells Fargo is deploying philanthropic support to nonprofits to help people, especially those racially and ethnically diverse people disproportionally affected by the pandemic, the company said.
"Wells Fargo believes supporting these organizations' ability to provide legal assistance is an important step to helping people avoid eviction, which is often the first step toward additional financial instability and possibly homelessness," said Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy with the Wells Fargo Foundation. Enditem