Many elderly low-wealth homeowners in the Mississippi Delta are in need of financial assistance in order to maintain the livability of their aging homes. Despite the prevalence of this challenge, funding opportunities to stem the loss of the existing affordable housing stock are few and far between. A $64,545.30 Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP) award from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) to nine Delta homeowners funded their homes' most urgently needed repairs. These repairs were completed this spring by local contractors Spencer Construction of Indianola and Sullivan & Sons Construction of Greenville, and by Sunflower-based non-profit Delta Grace, Inc., with the help of volunteers from several Greenwood churches and community groups.
The Greenwood Bank of Commerce, an FHLB Dallas Member, along with the Delta Design Build Workshop (Delta DB), a Greenwood-based design, construction and development firm, partnered with the homeowners on this grant. Eight of the grant recipients are Greenwood residents, and one lives in Sunflower County. To be eligible for the FHLB SNAP program, a resident must own their own home, be over 55 years of age or have a disability, and must have a household income of less than 80% of the area median income. In both Sunflower County and Leflore County last year, this equaled $30,080 for a two-person household. The recipients’ household incomes fall between 27% and 64% of the 2018 area median income.
The Bank of Commerce pledged $350.00 per property. This pledge allowed applicants to request the grant maximum of $7,000 in SNAP funding from FHLB Dallas.
One of the grant recipients was Margaret Hurt, who is semi-retired and works as a crossing guard for Davis Elementary School. Ms. Hurt’s home was well-maintained but aging, and she needed financial assistance for some of the most urgent repairs: a new roof to stop the advance of water damage, as well as electrical and HVAC upgrades to bring the systems up to code and safety standards. These repairs were completed by Spencer Construction of Indianola and inspected by Gregory and Associates, a planning and community development consulting firm in Greenwood. Ms. Hurt’s new roof stood up well against the downpours of this spring and summer; for the first time in years, she did not have to deal with any leaks.
This is the first time that the Bank of Commerce or Delta DB have pursued this source of funding, but based on the urgent need for this type of repair work and the success of the 2019 applications, the team hopes to apply in January of 2020 on behalf of as many as a dozen more homeowners.