HATTIESBURG, Miss., Nov. 1, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Last week, The Wishcamper Companies, Inc. celebrated the grand opening of a newly renovated 120-unit apartment complex for low-income residents in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Wishcamper Companies was joined by representatives from Trustmark National Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas), which together awarded the project a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant in 2010 to help with the rehabilitation of the Overlook Apartments.
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The Overlook Apartments underwent extensive rehabilitation and upgrades, including new siding, new kitchens and baths, electrical upgrades, new central heating and cooling units, and other upgrades designed to improve energy efficiency. The complex also received amenities such as a computer lab and a playground, and the buildings were brought up to Americans Disabilities Act standards.
"It was a complete gut rehab," said Jason Spellings, vice president of Southeastern operations for The Wishcamper Companies, the project's developer. "The property was built in the late 1970s/early 1980s and all of the kitchen and bath components eventually reach the end of their lifecycle. The AHP grant was absolutely valuable. In the end, it allowed us to do more rehab."
The Wishcamper Companies formed a joint venture with the Rocky Mountain Development Group and partnered with Hope Enterprise Corporation to receive the AHP grant. The project also received funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mississippi Home Corp., and Enterprise Community Investments.
"I'm incredibly excited. I don't think there are words that measure the magnitude of my excitement and pride with this project being completed," said Rick Wishcamper, president of the Rocky Mountain Development Group. "Our residents are constantly commenting to our site manager about the impact the renovations have had on their lives, both in terms of living conditions and the services we've provided to them."
The City of Hattiesburg has been an avid supporter of the rehabilitation project.
"A city is its best when its people are granted access to the best opportunities to advance, whether that's through affordable housing, higher paying jobs, or reasonable education costs," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree. "We are very grateful to everyone who has invested their time, talent, and money toward ensuring that Hattiesburg's low-income families are not left behind as the nation's economy continues to rebound."
The partnership worked with Trustmark National Bank and Steffani Jenkins, a first vice president and director of community development at Trustmark, to obtain the AHP funds.
"Ms. Jenkins has been a pleasure to work with, as well as the Hope Enterprise Corporation and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. Hope Enterprise Corporation received the AHP grant and lent us the money. They are the conduit lender and have been very flexible and very good partners to work with. The combination of working with Ms. Jenkins, Phil Eide (senior vice president of housing and community development at Hope Enterprise), and Mark Loya (senior affordable housing analyst at FHLB Dallas) really made it easier to use the FHLB Dallas grant funds in a way that benefited the project as much as possible. It's been a great team and everybody has been a great team player."
AHP funds are used to purchase, construct, and/or rehabilitate single-family, transitional, and multifamily projects for very low- to moderate-income families. The grants are awarded through member institutions, such as Trustmark National Bank, to support affordable housing activities in the members' communities.
"Quality, affordable, multifamily housing continues to be a critical need in our communities," said Ms. Jenkins. "With the help of AHP funds and the private-public partnership with Hope Enterprise Corporation, The Wishcamper Companies, and the Rocky Mountain Development Group, there are now 120 newly renovated units available for families in Hattiesburg. Trustmark National Bank is thrilled to have been part of the successful completion of this rehab project."
Hope Enterprise Corporation has worked with The Wishcamper Companies for several years.
"We met them several years after Hurricane Katrina. We have worked with them on a few projects in and around Mississippi since they started doing business in the state," said Mr. Eide. "They are a top-notch developer that does phenomenal work and that really takes good care of the families they work with."
Hope Enterprise Corporation has had a long relationship with Trustmark National Bank and knew its lenders were well-versed in the AHP grant process.
"Trustmark understands the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, they understand the AHP and its requirements, and they understand how the money flows and how to make things happen," Mr. Eide said.
The project renovations began in August 2011. Residents of Overlook Apartments were relocated to vacant apartment units while the rehab took place.
Mr. Eide, who also serves on FHLB Dallas's Advisory Council, said grant programs such as the AHP are vital to affordable housing developments.
"The AHP has been around for 20-plus years, and from the ease of using the funds to the ability to disburse the funds quickly, there is just nothing like it," said Mr. Eide. "Especially in times like this when funds are drying up everywhere else, the AHP funds are more crucial than they've ever been. To have AHP funds available for developments like this, whether they are single-family developments, down payment assistance, or one of the many other uses for AHP, it has always been the case that there are no other funds like AHP grants."
Each year, FHLB Dallas returns 10 percent of its profits in the form of AHP grants that are distributed through its member institutions. AHP grants assist in the development of affordable, owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households located primarily within FHLB Dallas's five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. In 2012, FHLB Dallas awarded $7.6 million in AHP grants through members to create 1,150 new or rehabilitated housing units, including more than $3.2 million to support 476 units in Mississippi.
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 $35.2 billion as of September 30, 2012, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to more than 900 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. For more information, visit the FHLB Dallas website at fhlb.com.
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CONTACT: Corporate Communications Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas www.fhlb.com (214) 441-8445
Source:Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas