updated 4/22/2011 2:46:05 PM ET 2011-04-22T18:46:05

HATTIESBURG, Miss., April 22, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and BankPlus are pleased to announce they have awarded a $330,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant to the University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies (IDS). The grant will assist IDS in providing low-income, special needs homebuyers with down payments and closing costs on new or existing homes in various counties in Mississippi.

IDS has utilized the AHP since 1996 to assist special needs families in multiple counties throughout the state. AHP funds are available through FHLB Dallas member institutions, such as BankPlus, to assist in the development of affordable, owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households primarily across FHLB Dallas's five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas.

Each year, FHLB Dallas returns 10 percent of its profits to support the AHP. In 2010, FHLB Dallas awarded $18.5 million in AHP grants through its member institutions, the largest amount in any single year since the program's inception in 1990. Approximately $6.2 million of the 2010 AHP funds were allocated to projects in Mississippi to assist in the creation or renovation of 851 units within the state. In 2011, FHLB Dallas is offering $10.5 million in AHP grants. Recipients will be announced this summer.

The AHP grant will enable IDS to provide $16,000 in grant funds to 20 qualified homebuyers, of which $500 will be used for first-time homebuyer counseling and education courses.

"BankPlus proudly supports the efforts of IDS," said BankPlus Vice President Mark Ouellette. "We consider IDS to be a model organization within our community due to its continuous efforts to assist special needs individuals and families. IDS has the knowledge and resources to significantly improve the lives of these families that have nowhere else to turn for help."

Cassie Hicks, coordinator for housing initiatives at IDS, has worked with FHLB Dallas and its AHP since joining the IDS staff in 2001. She said BankPlus has been a long-time partner of IDS's efforts, and the AHP grants are critical in providing funding to enable special needs families to obtain safe, decent, and quality homes.

"Through the years of working together, BankPlus truly embraced our program and the mission of IDS," said Ms. Hicks. "They continue to work with us to improve the program and its processes, as well as develop new ideas to enhance our program's performance to more adequately address our community's needs. Through this partnership, we have significantly improved the quality of life for special needs families that were once living under horrible conditions in dilapidated homes. A safe, decent and affordable home changes the lives and well-being of these families in a tremendous way."

Since the grant was awarded in 2010, two families have already obtained funding for homeownership.

About The University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Institute for Disability Studies has been located at USM for over 30 years and is part of a national network of 67 University Centers on Disabilities advancing policy and practice for and with individuals with disabilities, their families and communities. More information on IDS can be found at www.usm.edu/ids .

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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