updated 4/6/2011 3:16:40 PM ET 2011-04-06T19:16:40

D'LO, Miss., April 6, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and BankPlus are pleased to announce they have awarded a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant to South Central Community Action Agency (SCCAA). The grant funds will assist SCCAA in making critical repairs to homes of very low income homeowners so they may qualify for further services through the U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program.

SCCAA serves eight counties across central Mississippi, including Copiah, Hinds, Lincoln, Madison, Pike, Rankin, Simpson, and Walthall. The grant funds will enable SCCAA to restore at least 72 homes, primarily of elderly, disabled, and/or very low-income homeowners, to a condition that can qualify the homes for weatherization repairs. Many of the homes in the region served by SCCAA are turned down for the weatherization program because they are not up to the standards set by the Department of Energy.

"When we started trying to qualify homeowners for the weatherization program, time and time again we found that the home was ineligible because it was in such bad shape," said Jesse Griffin, executive director at SCCAA. "That's when we decided to help these homeowners by restoring their homes to a condition that would enable them to qualify for the program. Once the initial work is completed, the home can be weatherized so that it is safe and energy efficient for the homeowner."

This is the first AHP grant SCCAA has received, and Mr. Griffin said BankPlus was a tremendous partner. Mark Ouellette, vice president at BankPlus, assisted SCCAA through the application process and truly believes in its mission to assist needy homeowners.

"When SCCAA began their weatherization program, they found that many of the homes had serious structural concerns," said Mr. Ouellette. "BankPlus immediately began working to identify a funding source to address these concerns. We wanted to make sure these families could have a safe home as well as take advantage of the energy cost savings brought by the weatherization upgrades. Without assistance from funding sources like FHLB Dallas, SCCAA would have to walk away from families that desperately need assistance. This is a great example of how effective collaboration can benefit our communities."

Mr. Griffin said the homeowners that SCCAA assists are physically and financially unable to make the repairs on their own and, therefore, many continue to live in substandard conditions. As they try to make ends meet, their homes are falling down around them.

"Many of our clients have sky-high utility bills because there are holes in the walls and ceilings, and water damage to the interior of the home due to rain and plumbing issues," said Mr. Griffin. "It is not uncommon for these homeowners to put off paying medical bills, prescriptions, or even grocery bills so that they can pay the utility bill for the month. By restoring these homes, we are able to reduce their cost of living and apply that money to other very important expenses."

SCCAA was recently named the 2011 winner of the Residential Energy Efficiency Awards for Weatherization by State & Local Energy Report and the National Association for State and Community Services Programs (NASCSP). SCCAA was recognized by its peers in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of Weatherization Assistance Program providers, the nation's largest residential energy efficiency program whose mission is to reduce the burden of high energy costs for low-income families. SCCAA was rated No. 1 among the programs in 14 states, and was presented the award in mid-March.

Each year, FHLB Dallas returns 10 percent of its profits in the form of AHP grants issued by its member financial institutions, such as BankPlus, to assist in the development of affordable owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households across its five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. Through its members, FHLB Dallas awarded $18.5 million in AHP grants in 2010, of which more than $6.2 million was allocated to projects in Mississippi and assisted in the construction or renovation of 851 units within the state.

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, Ocean Springs, 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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