Mississippi governor awards USM Institute of Disability Studies

HATTIESBURG, MS (THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI) - A commitment to service within its successful homebuyer project has resulted in another Governor's Community Projects of Excellence Award for the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Haley Barbour presented IDS Executive Director Royal Walker with the award during a ceremony last month in Jackson. This marks the third time that the IDS Mississippi Home of Your Own program has collected the prestigious award presented to agencies with initiatives that effectively help improve the quality of life in Mississippi communities.

"In 1997 the Home of Your Own program began with a dream," said Walker. "Thirteen years later this award reflects how IDS has been able to assist in the successes of more than 350 people with disabilities and their families who have not only become proud homeowners but have become part of their communities."The Governor's Community Projects of Excellence Awards showcase Mississippi communities that have creatively utilized funds provided through the Community Block Grant Program, Home Investment Partnership Program and other programs administered through the Mississippi Development Authority's Community Services Division.

The Mississippi Development Authority recently awarded IDS a $750,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide down payment assistance for potential homebuyers. The down payment grants, up to $15,000 for eligible households, are designed to promote home ownership, make housing payments more affordable and allow families with disabilities a chance for inclusion in communities of their choice.

To date, the IDS Home of Your Own program has assisted 354 families with disabilities across 49 of Mississippi's 82 counties. The program focuses on creating a support system that identifies potential homebuyers, analyzes their housing needs and financial capacity and prepares them for homeownership.

The Institute for Disability Studies at Southern Miss offers a variety of programs to assist individuals with disabilities and their families. Priority areas include: housing, early intervention, inclusive child care, assistive technology, recreation, health, education and family support.

To learn more about the Home of Your Own Program and other support services provided by IDS call 601-266-5163 or visit www.usm.edu/ids/