Grant Funds Help First-Time Homeowner With Home Purchase

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HOUSTON, May 7, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Homeownership was a long and difficult road for Houstonian Joe James. Mr. James began his journey toward homeownership by working with Easter Seals Greater Houston (Easter Seals) in 2009 when he was suddenly laid off from his job at Continental Airlines. He was in the midst of completing the application process and attending the mandatory first-time homebuyer courses when the economy plummeted, and so did his dream of homeownership.

But, after a few years of paying down his debts and building his savings, Mr. James was called back to work after Continental Airlines merged with United Airlines. Mr. James is disabled and relies on a wheelchair. He primarily works from home. Once he was working again, Mr. James returned to Easter Seals in 2011 in hopes that his second attempt at homeownership would come through.

Easter Seals received $59,000 in Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant funds in 2010 through Amegy Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas). The grant funds are leveraged with funding through Easter Seals's Home of Your Own (HOYO) program to assist income-qualified, special-needs homeowners with down payment and closing costs on newly constructed or existing homes in the greater Houston area.

This second try was a charm for Mr. James. He qualified for $20,000 through Easter Seals's HOYO, as well as $7,500 in AHP funding, and approximately $6,000 through an Independent Development Account (IDA) with Covenant Community Capital, one of HOYO's partner agencies with the United Way of Greater Houston. Mr. James said he was able to get a mortgage payment that was lower than what he previously paid for rent.

"It was a trying process, but it was worth it," said Mr. James, who is now the proud owner of a three-bedroom home in northeast Houston. "Being a homeowner has granted me great independence. I now pay less for more space. It's great. I appreciate Easter Seals's guidance in making this happen for me and I hope that there are many others that hear about the program and are able to become homeowners as well."

Katy Thorstenberg, program coordinator at Easter Seals, worked with Mr. James both in 2009 and 2011 as he tried to qualify for the HOYO program.

"Mr. James has worked so hard to get where he is now," said Ms. Thorstenberg. "He was such a great candidate and I am absolutely thrilled that everything worked out for him this second time around. It just goes to show, never give up, and with hard work and dedication you can achieve your goals."

AHP grants are awarded through FHLB Dallas member financial institutions, such as Amegy Bank, to assist in the development and rehabilitation of affordable, owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households. In 2012, FHLB Dallas awarded $8.3 million in grants to help create or rehabilitate 1,248 housing units throughout its five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. Another $10 million in AHP grants has been made available for 2013. Grant recipients will be announced this summer.

"Through the Affordable Housing Program, Amegy Bank has had the opportunity to partner with several outstanding community organizations such as Easter Seals," said Amegy Bank Senior Vice President and Community Banking Manager Brian Stoker. "It's important to us to help serve the people and communities where we do business, and we are proud to support Easter Seals in their efforts to provide affordable housing to those in need."

Mr. James closed on his home in August 2012, and has since made some modifications to make it handicap accessible. He is waiting to begin making additional handicap-accessible modifications so that his new home will perfectly accommodate his everyday needs.

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 billion as of March 31, 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

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

Source:Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas