updated 9/30/2010 10:45:43 AM ET 2010-09-30T14:45:43

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss., Sept. 30, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Local and state representatives will join the staff of Savannah Pines, LLC today to break ground on the first long-term workforce housing community, a program implemented post Hurricane Katrina, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The Savannah Pines development will assist with the Mississippi Gulf Coast revitalization efforts by providing hundreds of families with safe, affordable, and quality housing.

Funding for Savannah Pines was pooled from multiple sources including the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), The First: A National Banking Association (The First), and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas). Representatives from each organization will attend the groundbreaking ceremony at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, September 30, along with representatives of the city of Ocean Springs, the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, the D'Iberville – St. Martin Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Jackson County School System. The ceremony will take place at the corner of Rhonda Avenue and McNair Boulevard in St. Martin, Mississippi.

The first phase of Savannah Pines is expected to be complete within a year, and will consist of 178 newly constructed homes for families of all income levels. Neighborhood amenities will include walking trails, a playground, a swimming pool, and onsite daycare services for residents. Savannah Pines is located in an award-winning school district where students may attend nearby elementary schools and a brand new high school. It is also conveniently located near retail stores, sand beaches, art and cultural activities, and the historic downtown Ocean Springs. 

Site acquisition, engineering, environmental, infrastructure, and vertical construction for Savannah Pines will be funded in part by an MDA Long Term Workforce Housing grant. In addition, FHLB Dallas and The First awarded a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant that will provide 91 qualified, low- to moderate-income, first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing cost assistance. 

Each year, FHLB Dallas returns 10 percent of its profits in the form of AHP grants issued by its member financial institutions, such as The First, to assist in the development of affordable owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households.  This is the first year the The First has participated in AHP, and Jerome Brown, Community Reinvestment Act officer at The First, explained that AHP was a natural fit for the Savannah Pines development.

"The mission of Savannah Pines is to provide safe and quality housing to those living in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area who lost everything due to Hurricane Katrina," said Mr. Brown. "So many families in the area suffered complete loss, and The First was fortunate to have access to AHP funding to assist with the development of Savannah Pines. Now that we know and understand more about FHLB Dallas and AHP, we hope to assist more organizations, like Savannah Pines, in order to continue to help with the rehabilitation efforts of the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

Jeff Cely, program manager at Savannah Pines LLC, said the AHP funds will especially help lower-income families move into Savannah Pines.

 "The AHP grant gave us the means to provide an even deeper subsidy, which enables us to reach a broader segment of Mississippians that were affected by Hurricane Katrina," said Mr. Cely. "Savannah Pines will incorporate families of all income levels in a community environment, and the AHP grant will help us reach those at lower income levels so that they, too, can purchase a new home in a nice and safe neighborhood."

In 2010, FHLB Dallas awarded $18.5 million in AHP grants through its member institutions to 79 housing projects, which will help create or renovate 2,632 housing units across FHLB Dallas's five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. Of the $18.5 million awarded, $6.2 million was allocated to projects in Mississippi which will create or renovate 851 housing units within the state.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of AHP, and the $18.5 million represents the largest amount FHLB Dallas has awarded in any single year of the program. Since 1990, AHP has assisted more than 38,000 families with their affordable housing needs.

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 $57.1 billion as of June 30, 2010, 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 web site at fhlb.com.

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

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