Photo Release -- HELP Grant Paves the Road to Homeownership for Conway Resident

CONWAY, Ark., June 25, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Joann Nelson, 53, a former bed and breakfast owner, was still getting back on her feet several years after a divorce. She had been saving to buy a house, but even after three years of saving, she still didn't have enough funds for the down payment.

A photo accompanying this release is available at

"I didn't think I could ever buy a house on my own, but I wanted to try," said Ms. Nelson, who now works as a pharmacy tech for a major retailer. "Last October, I went to Centennial Bank to see if I could get preapproved for a home loan. The loan officer told me to keep saving, and come back to see her in January."

Following this advice, Ms. Nelson returned in January to meet with the loan officer at Centennial Bank. At this meeting, she was told she would qualify for a grant under the Homebuyer Equity Leverage Partnership (HELP) program, offered by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) through Centennial Bank.

HELP grants are offered by FHLB Dallas through its member financial institutions, like Centennial Bank, to assist income-qualified, first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs on newly constructed or existing homes.

"HELP grants make the dream of homeownership a reality for many people who might not otherwise be able to reach that goal," said Tonya Weaver, CRA officer at Centennial Bank. "The HELP grant program makes such a difference in people's lives, and Centennial Bank is pleased to partner with FHLB Dallas on these grants. That is what community banking is all about."

Ms. Nelson went through the application process, and was awarded a $7,000 HELP grant, which was applied toward her down payment.

In 2014, FHLB Dallas made $1 million in HELP funds available to its members on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ms. Nelson is so happy to be a homeowner. Her two children were thrilled they could now have a dog, and their new yellow lab loves the backyard.

"Homeownership means freedom to me. You don't have the same restrictions as you have as a renter. It has also given me a sense of pride," Ms. Nelson said. "I can't wait to have friends over to my new house!"

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.

Joann Nelson

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