updated 5/2/2011 2:46:26 PM ET 2011-05-02T18:46:26

HATTIESBURG, Miss., May 2, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and BancorpSouth are pleased to announce they have awarded a $220,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant to the University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies (IDS). The grant will assist in IDS's efforts to provide down payment and closing cost assistance to qualified, special needs homebuyers in various counties of Mississippi. 

The grant funds will provide 12 low-income, special needs homebuyers with $11,000 to assist with down payment and closing cost expenses on a new or existing home. All qualified recipients will be first-time homebuyers, and $500 of each grant will be applied toward required first-time homebuyer counseling and education courses.

IDS has utilized the AHP since 1996 to assist special needs families in numerous areas of the state. AHP funds are available through FHLB Dallas member institutions, such as BancorpSouth, 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 through its member institutions in the form of AHP grants, the largest amount 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. 

Cassie Hicks, coordinator for housing initiatives at IDS, said the process of choosing recipients for the grant money has begun, and IDS hopes to start awarding the funds to eligible homebuyers by summer 2011.

"We are currently in the process of interviewing the recipient families," said Ms. Hicks. "There is such a significant need in our area to help low-income, special needs households obtain safe and decent housing. Many of our applicants are living in homes that are considered well below sub-standard living conditions. We have depended on BancorpSouth for many years to assist us in obtaining AHP grants to fund this program, and without their support, so many of our applicants would have no other means to improve their current living situation." 

BancorpSouth Vice President Evelyn Edwards has worked with IDS and Ms. Hicks for many years to obtain FHLB Dallas's grant funds. 

"BancorpSouth is proud to have a longstanding history of working with FHLB Dallas to assist the efforts of IDS," said Evelyn Edwards, vice president and regional CRA officer for BancorpSouth. "We are pleased to continue this vital relationship in a way that provides affordable housing to those in our community."

In its continuing efforts to meet the needs of its members and the communities they serve, FHLB Dallas is offering $10.5 million in AHP funding in 2011. The 2011 recipients will be announced in this summer.

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, Miss., 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 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 $33.2 billion as of March 31, 2011, 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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