updated 10/5/2010 6:16:20 PM ET 2010-10-05T22:16:20

COVINGTON, La., Oct. 5, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and Whitney National Bank joined Habitat for Humanity St. Tammany West (Habitat STW) in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Groves at Mile Branch, a 129-unit mixed-income housing development in Covington, Louisiana.

Photos accompanying this release are available at

http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=8109

http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=8110

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FHLB Dallas and Whitney awarded a $300,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant to Habitat STW in 2009 for the construction of 30 homes for very low- to low-income families. Habitat STW has built 16 of the homes, and the remainder will be built within The Groves at Mile Branch. The AHP funds will assist the Habitat STW families within The Groves with their down payment and closing costs.

Lisa Bradford, a 45-year-old single mother of four, is currently working on fulfilling her homeownership requirements so she can purchase a home within The Groves. Ms. Bradford attended the groundbreaking along with several other future Habitat homeowners, who are working toward purchasing homes in The Groves.

"I am a single parent of four. It's been a long time coming. I have worked hard and I am so thankful for all of the people who came together to make this happen," said Ms. Bradford, who works as a teacher's aide at Pineview Middle School in Covington, which is walking distance from The Groves. Ms. Bradford rents a home, but says her rent has continued to rise each year.

Habitat STW is developing The Groves in conjunction with Volunteers of America (VOA) subsidiary Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation, as part of VOA's effort to replace the more than 1,000 units of housing that were lost in Hurricane Katrina. Habitat STW President and CEO Jeffery St. Romain said the development will allow working families to live where they work, which will build more stable communities.

"What we will be able to do is build workforce housing in our community, putting working families in homes," Mr. St. Romain said. "We appreciate the support of Whitney Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, not only on this project, but other Habitat STW projects. We couldn't do the work we do without their support and the support of our volunteers."

Along with VOA and Habitat STW, other attendees at the groundbreaking were St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis, Senator Jack Donahue, Representative John M. Schroder, and Covington Mayor Candace Watkins, as well as representatives from the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency and State of Louisiana Office of Community Development, which also contributed funds to the project.

Representative Schroder said the project is an example of putting government money to good use.

"I'm happy to live in Covington and have this project in Covington. We need more of this in St. Tammany Parish," Representative Schroder said. "I know there's a lot of effort that goes into it. We don't have enough of this housing in this parish, and I'm glad it's in this city."

The grant to Habitat STW was awarded through Whitney, one of FHLB Dallas's member financial institutions in New Orleans, Louisiana. More than $1.9 million in AHP grants were awarded through Whitney in 2010 to support affordable housing projects in Louisiana and Mississippi.

"Working with FHLB Dallas and Habitat STW to build and help finance affordable housing has truly been an incredibly rewarding experience," said Whitney Community Affairs Officer Sunada Pool Brookins. "Through our collaborative efforts, deserving families have achieved the American Dream literally 'from the ground up.' From building the homes, to participating in homeownership educational programs, this initiative successfully aligns our joint resources to create prosperous communities."

In addition to the single- and multifamily, mixed-income housing component, The Groves at Mile Branch will also include a 2-acre park and a community center.

AHP funds are used to purchase, construct, and/or rehabilitate single-family, transitional, and multifamily projects for very low- to moderate-income families. Each year, FHLB Dallas returns 10 percent of its profits to the communities served by member institutions in the form of AHP grants issued through certain of its member financial institutions The AHP grant to Habitat STW is part of $18.5 million in AHP grants that FHLB Dallas has awarded in 2010 through its member institutions to help create, renovate, or purchase 2,632 housing units, including more than $2.23 million in Louisiana, for 284 housing units. 

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

About Whitney National Bank

Whitney Holding Corporation, through its banking subsidiary Whitney National Bank, serves the five-state Gulf Coast region stretching from Houston, Texas; across southern Louisiana and the coastal region of Mississippi; to central and south Alabama; the panhandle of Florida; and the Tampa Bay metropolitan area of Florida.

The photos are also available via AP PhotoExpress.

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