First Bank Uses the Affordable Housing Program to Help its Community Prosper
December 2016 – The Affordable Housing Program (AHP) has a long history of helping communities prosper. Since the AHP’s inception in 1990, FHLBank Atlanta, in partnership with its shareholder financial institutions, has delivered more than $886 million in grant funding to support affordable housing development, homeownership, and home rehabilitation. These funds created more than 138,000 housing opportunities for low- to moderate-income families and, importantly, infused vital economic stimulus into communities, helping create jobs and expand local tax bases.
As a participant in FHLBank Atlanta’s AHP Set-aside rehabilitation products, Wadley, Alabama-based First Bank sees the impact of the AHP in its communities every day. The community bank first began using AHP Set-aside rehabilitation products four years ago and has predominantly supported veterans and military households with FHLBank Atlanta’s Veterans Rehabilitation and Returning Veterans Rehabilitation products. In these four years, First Bank has delivered more than $3 million in AHP funds to assist 239 households in Alabama and West Georgia with essential home repairs and renovations.
Funding from the Veterans rehabilitation products can be used for energy-efficient upgrades, including new roofs, windows, doors, and heating and air conditioning systems as well as accessibility improvements, such as wheel chair ramps, door widening, and bathroom retrofits. Renovations such as these make homes safer and more cost-efficient to own over the long term. Eligible homeowners can receive up to $12,500 in grant funds from the Veterans Rehabilitation product and up to $15,000 from the Returning Veterans Rehabilitation product.
Jared Kirby, chief executive officer of First Bank, along with executive vice president Dinah Lee and managers Kim Bain and Suzanne Scott say that the bank’s clients are overwhelmed by the assistance and repairs that they can obtain for their homes. In addition, Veterans products funding delivers a valuable boost to local economies. Kirby notes that the renovation activity provides work to local contractors, home inspectors, and attorneys that handle the title work associated with the projects as well as increased business for local supply companies.
“Over nearly four years, $3 million has been spent on home improvements for our customers, and all of that money has gone into wages and locally purchased materials, supporting our communities’ economies,” said Kirby.
First Bank’s market area sits within a large military footprint. The Veterans products are a critical piece of the bank’s efforts to serve the financial needs of military households in its communities, particularly the housing needs of low-income veterans. U.S. Representative Mike Rogers recently recognized First Bank and its efforts to support veterans in Alabama communities during an event at the bank’s Heflin branch.
“I enjoyed my visit in Heflin and was pleased to see the great work they are doing for our veterans in east Alabama,” said Rogers.
Expanding Reach and Building for the Future
Through its involvement in its communities, First Bank has easily generated steady demand for the Veterans products simply through word of mouth. Representatives from the bank engage in regular outreach about the funding program with local VA representatives, senior centers, and houses of worship. Additionally, as the volume with the program has remained strong over the years, First Bank has explored areas outside of their immediate markets to reach new customers.
“We are doing business in other ways in other areas of the state and are always in the market to expand our footprint with the right opportunity,” said Kirby. “The Veterans products assist us in getting First Bank’s name into these new areas.”
As Kirby and his team look forward to 2017, they see no slowing down in their activity with the Veterans products. First Bank is an involved member of its community, and the Veterans products are central to their efforts to help local residents and businesses prosper.
“We are focused on being part of our community and supporting our community,” said Kirby. “The Veterans products are helping us fulfill this desire.”
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