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March 09, 2012 at 13:37 PM EST
Grant Funds Put Homeownership Within Reach for a Hattiesburg Resident

HATTIESBURG, Miss., March 9, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For Hattiesburg, Mississippi, resident Barbara Walker, homeownership had always been a dream that seemed out of reach. Ms. Walker is in her mid-60s and has guardianship of her two nieces, ages 6 and 14, and her 10-year-old nephew who has special needs. The family of four lived in a two-bedroom apartment, and Ms. Walker slept on a mattress on the floor. With her growing family, she desperately needed more space and a stable home environment.

Ms. Walker began working with Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity (Hattiesburg Habitat) in effort to qualify for a Habitat home. She exceeded the required 450 "sweat equity" hours by working more than 515 hours, and completed first-time homebuyer and counseling courses. Finally in August 2011, after months of hard work and dedication, Ms. Walker and her family moved into their newly constructed four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

"I appreciate each and every person who has helped me get here," said Ms. Walker. "I never dreamed that I would own a house, but I love it. I absolutely love it!"

Habitat sells its homes at cost to Habitat recipients with an interest-free mortgage. In addition, Ms. Walker received a $5,000 Homebuyer Equity Leverage Partnership (HELP) grant through The First, A National Banking Association (The First) and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) to assist with down payment and closing costs on her new home.

Each year, FHLB Dallas allocates grant funding to assist income-qualified, first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing costs on newly constructed or existing homes. HELP grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis through FHLB Dallas member institutions, such as The First. Approximately $1.7 million in HELP grants were awarded in 2011, and $1 million in HELP funds have been allocated for 2012.

"The First began utilizing the HELP program in 2011, and awarded HELP grants to three Mississippi families," said Jerome Brown, vice president and director of community development at The First. "Habitat Hattiesburg was a great partner in requesting the funding on Ms. Walker's behalf, and we are proud to have assisted in their efforts."

Hattiesburg Habitat had worked with FHLB Dallas in the past through its Affordable Housing Program, but this was the first time the organization utilized HELP as a means to further assist its homebuyers. Lee Ann Venable, resource development manager at Hattiesburg Habitat, said Ms. Walker was a very deserving candidate, and this grant was essential in placing her and her family into a new home.

"Ms. Walker is such a dear woman," said Ms. Venable. "She did everything she could to get into a new home and provide her family a better life. To say that Ms. Walker and the children have flourished through this experience is an understatement. They now have plenty of space, a safe neighborhood, and the stability and security that only homeownership can bring."

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 $33.8 billion as of December 31, 2011, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to more than 900 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. For more information, visit the FHLB Dallas website at fhlb.com.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=3013

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