GREENWOOD, Miss., May 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lora and Michael Gallion were lifelong renters and living on a fixed income. The only houses the couple could afford were run-down spaces that were almost uninhabitable.
Then one day, the Gallions saw a sign about the Baptist Town Cottages, a revitalized neighborhood in Greenwood, Mississippi, with new homes for families earning less than 50 percent of the area median income.
"I'm so glad we saw the sign," said Mrs. Gallion, 50, a former certified nursing assistant now living on disability. "We had looked at other homes to rent, but even at $400 a month, the condition of them was not good."
The Gallions were introduced to Emily Roush Elliott, a Rose Architectural Fellow and Baptist Town Cottages' project manager. The couple attended a homeownership class, where Ms. Roush Elliott discussed the home-buying process, but the Gallions' fixed income did not provide money for a down payment. Ms. Roush Elliot said they might qualify for a Homebuyer Equity Leverage Partnership (HELP) grant.
HELP is offered by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) through its member financial institutions. In this case, the grant was made available through Planters Bank & Trust Company. HELP provides grants to income-qualified, first-time homebuyers for down-payment or closing-cost assistance on new or existing homes.
The Gallions were awarded a $4,000 HELP grant, which was applied toward their down payment. Eric Miller, first vice president at Planters Bank & Trust Company, said the HELP program is a valuable asset. "With HELP grant funding, we are able to assist deserving homebuyers with getting into their first homes. It is very rewarding," Mr. Miller said.
Ms. Roush Elliott said she learned about HELP through Michelle Whetten, chair of FHLB Dallas' Advisory Council and vice president of Enterprise Community Partners, which oversees the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship, partnering early-career architectural designers with local community development organizations.
"The HELP grant was huge to the Gallions," said Ms. Roush Elliott. "It helped drive the affordability of the home and reduced the amount of the mortgage to only 19 percent of their income," she said. "The Cottages are now home to 11 families, who are essential parts of the fabric of the historic Baptist Town neighborhood, a place where a long-standing history of staggering economic struggle pervades the built environment. But it is superseded by community members who are close-knit and supportive of their neighbors. There is a sense of place difficult to find in the United States today. Yet, without the HELP grants, homeownership would not be attainable for these residents."
Mrs. Gallion is happy in her new home. "Many nights, I have sat here and cried," she said. "It is so warm. There are no drafts coming in through the windows. It is truly a blessing."
In 2015, FHLB Dallas made $1 million available for the HELP program on a first-come, first-served basis, just as it did in 2014. To date in 2015, Planters Bank & Trust Company has awarded $40,000 in HELP grants to assist income-qualified, first-time homebuyers. As of May 22, 2015, $253,163 of HELP grants remained available for funding.
"HELP is a foundational source of funds for our members, who leverage its availability to strengthen homeownership in their communities," said Greg Hettrick, vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas. "We are very pleased to support such worthwhile efforts."
About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 12 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $36.9 billion as of March 31, 2015, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to approximately 865 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. For more information, visit fhlb.com.
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
SOURCE Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas