updated 3/21/2011 6:45:39 PM ET 2011-03-21T22:45:39

GOODMAN, Miss., March 21, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hillside Gardens, a green subdivision in Goodman, Mississippi, was awarded a $300,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant from BankPlus and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) to assist with construction costs, and reduce down payment and closing costs for low-income homebuyers.

Hillside Gardens, located just off of Highway 51, near Holmes Community College, will consist of 40 three- and four-bedroom, two-bath energy efficient homes with attached garages. The homes will have options for solar energy, tankless water heaters, generators, and energy efficient appliances.

Plans for the subdivision have been in the works for about three years, and arose out of a need to bring higher quality housing into the area to support the surrounding workforce, said Ernestine Bilbrew, of Bilbrew Consulting. Bilbrew Consulting has been working with the town of Goodman and Voice of Calvary Ministries to plan the project.

"This is a small town, yet we have a community college here and a lot of traffic coming through, and we wanted a way we could capitalize on that and make homes affordable for working people," Ms. Bilbrew said. "I feel like Hillside Gardens is not only a housing project, but it's a community project too. We are working on bringing in job training, financial literacy classes, and homebuyer education for people who live in the area."

The AHP grant is part of $18.5 million in AHP grants FHLB Dallas awarded to projects in 2010 through member institutions such as BankPlus.

"BankPlus is committed to finding ways to provide affordable housing for residents in our communities," said Mark Ouellette, vice president and director of Affordable Housing for BankPlus. "The Hillside Gardens development is a bold plan and we are very excited about the progress being made. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas grant awarded to this project might just be the missing piece needed to see it through to completion."

The project is minutes from Interstate 55 and about 30 minutes from the Nissan automotive plant and the soon-to-be-constructed Madison River Oaks Hospital in Canton, Mississippi. Other nearby employers include an acute care hospital in Lexington, Mississippi, and the recently-completed Federal Correctional Complex in adjacent Yazoo County.

Goodman Mayor John Estep said the town fully supports the project and has been working with the entities involved to bring it to fruition.

"We think this project will provide low-priced, quality housing that will attract people to the community," Mr. Estep said. "We don't have a lot of rental housing available in Goodman, so this is a good opportunity for someone to get into a house."

Voice of Calvary Ministries, which applied for the AHP grant, will be conducting the homebuyer counseling for homebuyers in Hillside Gardens.

"We are excited about partnering with Ms. Bilbrew to apply for and receive the Affordable Housing Program grant," said Phil Reed, president and CEO of Voice of Calvary Ministries. "The Hillside Gardens project will be a tremendous benefit to Goodman and its residents. We are also grateful to be providing homeownership education for prospective new homeowners."

According to Ms. Bilbrew, the first homes are expected to be completed in September. Ms. Bilbrew also worked with the Mississippi Home Corporation and Home of Your Own to secure funds and find qualified applicants.

Each year, FHLB Dallas returns 10 percent of its profits to the communities served by its member institutions in the form of AHP grants issued through certain of its member financial institutions. In 2010, FHLB Dallas awarded AHP grants to 79 housing projects that will help create, renovate, or purchase 2,632 housing units, including $6.2 million to assist with 851 housing units in Mississippi. 

About BankPlus

BankPlus, with total assets of more than $2.2 billion, has over 60 banking offices in 33 Mississippi communities. In addition to its Belzoni Main Office, other BankPlus offices are located in Bentonia, Brandon, Byram, Canton, Clinton, D'Iberville, Durant, Flora, Flowood, Gluckstadt, Hernando, Holly Bluff, Horn Lake, Isola, Jackson, Lexington, Madison, Meridian, Newton, Olive Branch, Pearl, Picayune, Pickens, Poplarville, Quitman, Ridgeland, Shubuta, Southaven, Stonewall, Tchula, Waynesboro and Yazoo City. For additional information on BankPlus, please visit www.BankPlus.net .

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 $39.7 billion as of December 31, 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 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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