Photo Release -- AHP Grant Assists Lafayette Homebuyers With Closing Costs

LAFAYETTE, La., May 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A $60,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant is helping six low-income Lafayette, Louisiana, homebuyers with the down payments and closing costs on new homes.

A photo accompanying this release is available at

The AHP grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and MidSouth Bank was awarded to Lafayette Habitat for Humanity (LHFH), and it has assisted the organization in completing the first phase of a neighborhood revitalization initiative within Lafayette's historic McComb-Veazey neighborhood.

The first six homes have been constructed. Ultimately, the project will encompass at least 20 new homes at a total project cost of more than $1.5 million.

"The AHP grant is a tremendous help to our low- income families, who will be making monthly payments in a more affordable range," said Melinda Taylor, executive director of LHFH. The AHP funds also help LHFH by freeing up funds that can be reinvested into other projects, she added.

Yoshanna Benoit, a single, hard-working mother of six was able to move her family from an overcrowded three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment into one of the new homes.

Ms. Benoit, a long-time employee of University Health Center, is very excited about her new, four-bedroom home. "This will be the beginning of a fresh start for my kids and me," Ms. Benoit said. "I really appreciate what Habitat has done for us. It has been a long journey but it finally has come to an end. I am glad I got to work along with the volunteers and everyone else to be able to build our home."

The McComb-Veazey neighborhood is a historic African-American neighborhood with many Craftsman-style homes that date back to the early 1900s, a style that neighborhood residents have sought to preserve.

Community residents, business owners, and the city spent two years from 2006-2008 devising a detailed plan for the revitalization of the neighborhood, including proposals for historical home preservation, architectural design guidelines, small business development, and parks. The city of Lafayette adopted the plan in November 2008.

"This is a great partnership between the city, Habitat for Humanity, LHFH, and MidSouth Bank," said City-Parish Mayor-President Joey Durel. "What this partnership does is truly give our low income citizens a 'hand up,' not a hand-out, because the recipients must pay their mortgage. Homeownership gives people a sense of pride, and that pride will be reflected in the pride they take in their neighborhood. They not only own a new home, but will now feel a stronger sense of ownership in their community."

LHFH tapped the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's (UL) School of Architecture and Design as well as other local architects and residential construction professionals to provide home designs that reflect the neighborhood's historic significance, Ms. Taylor said. Some of the homes being built are in the Craftsman-style with enhanced porches. Others are considered a more modern style, but still within architectural guidelines for the area.

Ms. Benoit's home was designed by the UL architecture students, Ms. Taylor said. "It doesn't look like your typical Habitat house," Ms. Taylor added. "One of the desires of the neighborhood is that the houses that we build would fit in with the best examples of the architecture there."

George Shafer, Community Reinvestment Act officer with MidSouth Bank, said the project will go a long way toward breathing new life into the McComb-Veazey neighborhood.

"Our mission is to serve the communities of Louisiana and Texas where we do business," Mr. Shafer said. "The Lafayette Habitat for Humanity project is a great opportunity for MidSouth Bank to give back to the residents of Lafayette and to work to reinvigorating a neighborhood with historical significance."

LHFH finances the homes at or below cost, via zero-interest, 20- or 30-year mortgages based on housing costs that do not exceed 30 percent of the buyer's monthly gross income.

Homeowners are required to complete 300 to 450 hours of sweat equity helping to build their home. They also participate in a homebuyer education program where they learn about financial and maintenance issues involved with homeownership.

AHP grants are awarded through FHLB Dallas member financial institutions, such as MidSouth Bank, to assist in the development of affordable owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households. In 2013, FHLB Dallas awarded $11.3 million in AHP funding 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. Another $11 million is available through members in 2014.

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 $30.6 billion as of March 31, 2014 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

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.

AHP Grant Assists Lafayette Homebuyers with Closing Costs

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