AHP Grant to Provide Housing to Elderly Residents in Rural Mississippi

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CAMDEN, Miss., Oct. 31, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and BancorpSouth Bank are pleased to announce they have awarded a $378,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant to New Orleans-based Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (GCHP) to build a 42-unit affordable senior housing facility in Camden, Mississippi.

Camden, a rural area in Madison County about 40 miles north of Jackson, has 23 percent of its residents living in poverty. GCHP will partner with Sacred Heart Catholic Mission to develop the $7.5 million multifamily rental project for Camden citizens age 55 and older. A portion of the development will be reserved for disabled residents. The two entities are forming a corporation that will own the new, yet to be named facility.

"Ironically, the lower part of Madison County is fast becoming one of the more affluent areas in Mississippi, while northeast Madison County remains very poor, very rural, underdeveloped and underserved," said Sister Donna Gunn, coordinator of special projects with Sacred Heart Family Center, which provides a host of social services to the local population.

In addition to the AHP grant, funding for the project is expected to be provided by approximately $6.3 million in low-income housing tax credits, a $15,000 Housing Assistance Council grant, and equity from GCHP and other partners. GCHP plans to break ground in January 2014 and complete the project in time for a projected December 2014 opening.

"Without the AHP grant, we'd have a financing gap that wouldn't allow the project to be tenable," said Tom Champion, director of real estate development for GCHP. "With the lower rents, you simply cannot support a significant amount of debt. Without that, you have to fill the gap somehow, and this grant is really what makes the project viable because it rounds out the financing sources and allows us to present rents at levels that seniors in this area can afford."

BancorpSouth Bank's Southeast Region Vice President Evelyn Edwards said the project fulfills an urgent need for quality housing in the region.

"Some of the housing stock in the Camden area is simply substandard and not fit for occupancy, and is beyond repair," she said. "This project will provide new, high-quality units that offer safe, independent living to our senior citizens as they age. And, as an added benefit, it will be right next door to the Sacred Heart Family Center and its many amenities. I have witnessed the pillows, blankets, and plastic being used to cover holes in an elderly woman's home in Camden in order to keep out cats, snakes, etc. This project restores all aspects of community pride."

Sister Gunn said the area's housing needs are great, and the impact of this project should be felt immediately upon its opening.

"We did a needs assessment, where we went into the homes and conducted interviews with the residents. We found that many people are living in substandard housing that is beyond repair," Sister Gunn said. "Some of our people live in what I would call the backwoods and as they age they are becoming afraid of living there, where it would be difficult for emergency vehicles to find them. Family members were also concerned about having family members in distant and remote places."

Mr. Champion said he expects the multifamily project to lease quickly -- within 90 days -- due to demand. It will be built on 11 acres of land donated by Maryland-based Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity. The property is located along Highway 17, adjacent to the Sacred Heart Family Center.

It will be built to a bronze U.S. Green Building Council standard with energy efficient appliances, high quality windows and additional insulation, all of which should lower utility costs for its residents. The project will be comprised of 21 detached, one-story duplexes, with 30 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom units. Amenities will include covered driveways, washers/dryers and dishwashers.

The multifamily project will include a walking trail, a business center with Internet access, a garden with a gazebo and a community center.

AHP grants are awarded through FHLB Dallas member financial institutions, such as BancorpSouth Bank, to assist in the development of affordable, owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households. This year, FHLB Dallas awarded $11.3 million in AHP grants to 36 projects across its five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. The funding will result in the creation or rehabilitation of 1,654 housing units across the District.

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 $31.3 billion as of September 30, 2013 is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to approximately 900 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. For more information, visit the FHLB Dallas website at fhlb.com.

CONTACT: Corporate Communications Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas www.fhlb.com (214) 441-8445

Source:Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas