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Program gives funding to repair homes of 19 needy locals

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Damione Chapman, left, and James Clark scrape old shingles from the roof of Larry’s house on Daisy Street.

NATCHEZ — Natchez resident Patricia Nelson no longer has to use bed sheets and towels to soak up the water that — until this week — dripped into her house through her leaky roof when it rained.

Nelson is one of 19 residents who received grant funding through two local banks and the City of Natchez from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas.

The Dallas bank’s Special Needs Assistance Program distributes grants through its local member banks to qualifying residents, including elderly and/or disabled, for home repairs.

Nelson, 60, said the roof on her Sunset Boulevard house has been leaking for five years, and she said she is thankful to have some relief.

“I thank the Lord for it,” she said. “I am so blessed. I like to have slipped and fell before when it was leaking.”

Daisy Street resident Lucille Larry, 77, had roofers on top of her house Friday fixing a pesky leak.

“I’ve had it patched in the past,” she said. “It’s been leaking on and off for a while. This is a big help; it sure will help me out a lot.”

The SNAP program is new for Britton & Koontz Bank and Concordia Bank & Trust, local members of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. The two banks distributed a combined approximately $96,000 to the residents that were awarded funding.

B&K President Page Ogden and Concordia Bank Senior Vice President Glynn Laird both said their banks are interested in continuing the SNAP program in the future.

“It’s a great program, and I’m sure if we can get more money, they’ll be more applications,” Laird said.

The City of Natchez facilitated the funding applications and will monitor the repair projects through its Community Development Director James Johnston.

Mayor Butch Brown called the banks and Johnston “heroes” for aiding residents in need of home repairs.

JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez resident Lucille Larry looks on as workers clear old shingles from the roof of her Daisy Street house on Friday morning. The work is being done through the Special Needs Assistance Program, which provides money to improve the living situations of qualifying applicants.

Greg Hettrick, director of community investment for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, said the bank developed the SNAP program in 2007 or 2008 after seeing the need for it in its five-state district of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas.

“We saw a definite need for the elderly to not have to worry about their house falling down around them,” he said.

The bank set aside $1 million at the beginning of the year for the SNAP program, Hettrick said.

“In less than a month, all of the $1 million was spoken for,” he said.

Hettrick said with the great demand for housing repairs for qualified residents in its district, the bank is considering taking applications for more SNAP funding later in the year.

“Given the demand, we’ve got to examine whether there’s an opportunity to provide more funds later in the year,” he said.