NEW IBERIA, La., May 19, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Robby Bethel left her hometown in New Iberia, Louisiana, at 17 to join the Army. She grew up in New Iberia's West End, one of the oldest sections of the city, and when she left in the late 1970s it was an area she could be proud of. There were thriving businesses and well-maintained homes in her neighborhood.
After serving her country and living abroad, Ms. Bethel returned home in 1990 to quite a different picture.
"What I saw was a deteriorating community," she said. "Some of the homes were in deplorable condition."
Since then, Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc. (SMHA) has stepped up and started revitalization efforts in the West End, including getting involved with several neighborhood associations and spurring them to action, said Ms. Bethel, now a community liaison for the West End Neighborhood Association.
SMHA received a $42,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant in 2010 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and IBERIABANK to assist SMHA with building six new homes in the area as part of the West End Revitalization Project. To date, five of the homes have been completed.
"This is an example of FHLB Dallas making a difference by being a real partner in rebuilding the city of New Iberia," said Lourna Bourg, executive director of SMHA.
In addition to the AHP grant, the project has also received a $486,000 Neighborhood Stabilization Program award from the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and SMHA has partnered with the Mennonite Disaster Service, which is providing volunteer labor to build the homes. Additional funding from NeighborWorks America is being utilized for additional mortgage loan principal reduction for the homebuyers.
The city of New Iberia has also gotten involved by investing funds into streetscaping, which includes new sidewalks, lighting, and trees along the streets, Ms. Bourg said. There is also a new, $11 million school being built nearby.
SMHA worked with IBERIABANK to apply for the AHP grant.
"IBERIABANK is pleased to help fund a project that will replace housing and bring new life to an aging area of New Iberia," said Carrie Curet. "With the help of the AHP grants, SMHA will be able to lower the costs of the homes, making the homes truly affordable for lower income homebuyers."
As construction started on the homes, Ms. Bethel said she sensed a shift in the atmosphere of the West End.
"When people could see the materials being brought in, you could see the residents getting excited," she said. "People were bringing doughnuts and coffee to workers they didn't even know. We began to see that sense of community pride again. It was touching."
Ms. Bethel said the new construction has had a ripple effect in the community, motivating other homeowners in the area to improve the façades of their older homes.
"We're grateful for SMHA and what it has done for the residents in the city and the West End," Ms. Bethel said. "The houses that were built were extremely important for the residents of the West End and the community to actually see something that was tangible. When you see the faces of some of the elderly who have worked so hard in their lifetimes and raised their families, you can understand why they don't want to move or see homes in deplorable condition. When the SMHA homes were built it gave those elderly people renewed hope that now the community is ready to move forward."
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 its member institutions in the form of AHP grants. In 2010, FHLB Dallas awarded $18.5 million in AHP grants through member institutions, like IBERIABANK, including more than $2.2 million in Louisiana, to support 284 housing units within the state.
In 2011, FHLB Dallas has offered $10.5 million in AHP grants through its member institutions.
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
IBERIABANK Corporation is a multi-bank financial holding company headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana. With $10 billion in assets, the Company has 255 combined offices in 12 states. The Company's common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "IBKC."
CONTACT: Corporate Communications Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas www.fhlb.com (214) 441-8445