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HELP Grant Helps Lake Charles Homeowner Break the Cycle of Renting

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LAKE CHARLES, La., July 19, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Shelly Renee Stevens grew up in a rented home. Her mother, she said, had rented all her life.

Ms. Stevens, following in her mother's footsteps, became a renter at age 18 when she graduated from high school. But she wanted a different life for herself.

"I always knew I wanted to own a house," Ms. Stevens said. "I always had that dream and when I was growing up, I told my mother, 'I hope and pray that I will own a home before I'm 35.'"

Ms. Stevens, 33, closed on a home in mid-June where she will live with her daughters, ages 11 and 12. Her mother, Ms. Stevens said, had also prayed over the years that her daughter's dream would come true.

"She is so proud of me," Ms. Stevens said. "I thank God that I made it here today. When I was signing the papers, the attorney said, 'I never saw anyone as excited as you.' I had tears in my eyes."

A $5,000 Homebuyer Equity Leverage Partnership (HELP) grant helped make Ms. Stevens's dream a reality.

The grants are offered through Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) members, such as First Federal Bank of Louisiana, to assist income-qualified, first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs on newly constructed or existing homes.

Ms. Stevens signed a lease in August 2012 on a home that she intended to eventually buy from her landlord. It is the same home she successfully purchased in June. A first-time homebuyer class solidified what she needed to know to become a successful homeowner, Ms. Stevens added.

The class, which she took at a local library, helped her understand how to manage her finances, she said.

"It's not good to just go out and buy things you want rather than things that you need," she said. "The class teaches you to not spend unnecessary money and to know how to manage your money and pay your mortgage on time."

Ms. Stevens doesn't plan any immediate changes to her home, other than new paint for her daughters' rooms. She wants her immediate focus to be on managing her mortgage payment.

She said she's very happy with the three-bedroom, two-bath house, located on a quiet, dead-end street near a park.

"I'm so speechless because it's like I'm living in a dream but it's real. I'm so thankful for everything."

Leslie Harless, vice president and marketing director for First Federal Bank of Louisiana, said Ms. Stevens's enthusiasm and gratefulness was refreshing.

"It feels great to be able to reach out to Ms. Stevens and help make her dream of homeownership a reality," Ms. Harless said. "Through our partnership with the FHLB Dallas HELP program, First Federal is making a positive difference in people's lives. That's what community banking is all about."

Since 1990, more than $13.3 million in HELP grants have been awarded to assist more than 2,500 households. For 2013, FHLB Dallas made $1 million in HELP funds available through its members .

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 fhlb.com.

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

Source:Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas