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Habitat receives $49k grant

by Colbie McCloud The Sentinel-Record | December 15, 2016 at 4:00 a.m.

A $49,000 Affordable Housing Program grant received by Garland County Habitat for Humanity is set to assist with off-setting the costs of the construction of seven houses.

GCHH received the grant a few months ago and four houses are currently under construction on Garden and Mound Streets. One house, built on Garden Street, will be dedicated Saturday.

The AHP grant is from Bank of the Ozarks and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, a news release said.

"It helps tremendously. It offsets a lot of the cost. The price of building supplies has escalated over the past few years. This particular grant off-sets the cost to the homeowner. We sell the house at our cost to the homeowner and we try to keep it as low as possible," GCHH Executive Director Cindy Wagstaff told The Sentinel-Record Tuesday.

Since 2006, GCHH has received five AHP grants of more than $621,000. Additional houses are set to be built on Avery Street, Cones Road and Ruth Street and are scheduled to be completed by August 2017. Construction crews and GCHH volunteers build the house within approximately six months.

"This grant stays in Garland County. Expenses we incur on the houses are dispensed into the local economy," Wagstaff said.

GCHH tries to keep the cost of the houses between $65,000 and $70,000. Wagstaff said the average cost depends on the size of the house, with a four bedroom costing more than a three bedroom.

"This AHP grant enables us to build houses in Hot Springs for hard-working parents, who are asking just for a hand up instead of a handout, at a level of affordability made possible by FHLB Dallas' funding," GCHH Development Director Evan Tuchinsky said in the release. "Seven families will move into their own homes in safer neighborhoods, thanks in great measure to FHLB Dallas and Bank of the Ozarks."

FHLB Dallas annually returns 10 percent of its profits in the form of AHP grants to the communities served by its member institutions, such as Bank of the Ozarks. AHP grants fund projects including home rehabilitation and modifications for low income, elderly, and special needs residents; down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified first-time home buyers; and the construction of low-income, multifamily rental communities and single family homes.

"It's a pretty lengthy and detailed application process and it is specifically for affordable housing. It is an annual application and we were notified a few months ago," Wagstaff said. "We submit it (grant application) upon the completion of the house."

"Hot Springs and Garland County have benefited from the work of Garland County Habitat since 1995," Eric Gustafson, Bank of the Ozarks vice president and director of community development, said in the release. "Bank of the Ozarks is delighted to support the outstanding efforts of Garland County Habitat and to continue serving our community through our partnerships with them and FHLB Dallas."

In 2016, FHLB Dallas and its member financial institutions awarded $7.8 million in AHP grants to 37 projects that will result in 1,499 new or renovated housing units. The amount includes $273,000 for 39 new or renovated units in Arkansas.

"Bank of the Ozarks' dedication to affordable housing is visible across Arkansas," Greg Hettrick, FHLB Dallas first vice president and director of community investment, said in the release. "They understand the need for community investment, and they act on that knowledge to bring critically needed housing to communities like Hot Springs."

"We were one of only two organizations in the state to receive that grant and we are really appreciative. They are incredible to work with," Wagstaff said.

Local on 12/15/2016

Print Headline: Habitat receives $49k grant

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