Rainy day no match for homeowner's gratitude

Rainy day no match for homeowner's gratitude

LEXINGTON, MS - This is a news release from FHLB

A rainstorm in mid-February wasn't going to stop Edward Matthews, a Lexington homeowner, from personally delivering a thank-you note to the Community Students Learning Center (CSLC). The CSLC recently had helped him apply for a grant to repair his leaking roof. In early February, a new roof was installed through funding from a $496,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant, awarded to CSLC in 2014 from BankPlus and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas).

"When it would rain, I'd go to the hardware store and get some tar, then in the attic, I had to guess where the leaks were in the roof. Sometimes I'd guess right," Mr. Matthews said. "I'd be up there, passing buckets down to my wife to empty."

The Matthews emptied buckets and tarred the leaky roof for eight years, but the work left Mr. Matthews disabled. During a storm several years ago, Mr. Matthews broke his back moving along the rafters.

CSLC Executive Director Beulah Greer received Mr. Matthews' hand-written note.

"Many homeowners in Lexington are low-income citizens, living below poverty," said Ms. Greer. "Most of the homes have leaking roofs, poor electrical systems, and poor heating and cooling systems or none at all. Seeing the many dilapidated homes in our community, CSLC became deeply concerned. It has become our goal to help every elderly and disabled family in Holmes County get much-needed repairs to their homes."

Mr. Matthews is one of 60 Holmes County residents whose homes benefited from the AHP grant awarded in 2014 by BankPlus and FHLB Dallas. CSLC received its first AHP grant in 2011 from the same banks, which totaled $308,000. It was used to rehab 44 homes in Carrollton, Mississippi and Holmes County.

"BankPlus is a community bank with a community focus," said Mark Oullette, first vice president and director of Affordable Housing at BankPlus. "Stories of gratitude, like that of Mr. Matthews and his family, certainly add meaning to our work. Seeing what our efforts accomplish — that makes it all worth it."

Today, the peace of mind that comes with the new roof has finally sunk in. Mr. Matthews said for the first few storms, he instinctively ran to the attic.

"I know there are some people who have a mindset of 'get it while it's free'," he said. "That's not me. I really appreciate all that was done for me and my family."

Ms. Greer appreciates the support, too.

"BankPlus gave CSLC a chance in the housing industry when other banks said 'no'," Ms. Greer said. "What I like about working with BankPlus is the passion and concern this group has for the people in their communities."

Through members such as BankPlus, FHLB Dallas annually returns 10 percent of its profits in the form of AHP grants to the communities served by its member institutions. AHP grants fund a variety of projects, including home rehabilitation and modifications for low-income, elderly, and special-needs residents; down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified first-time homebuyers; and the construction of low-income, multifamily rental communities and single-family homes.

In 2015, FHLB Dallas awarded $7.4 million in AHP grants to 32 projects that will result in 965 new or renovated housing units. Mississippi received $1.5 million for the construction or renovation of 188 units. FHLB Dallas will award $7.6 million in 2016 AHP grants. Recipients will be announced later this year.

"Initiatives like this are able to direct resources where they are most needed," said Greg Hettrick, first vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas. "Mr. Matthews' gracious thank-you note highlights the turnaround capable from our commitments. We've seen it for 25 years. Since 1990, the AHP has assisted more than 45,000 families obtain affordable housing, primarily in our District."