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Arkansas Senior Community Opens, Thanks To $224K Affordable Housing Grant

HOT SPRINGS, AR–A long-abandoned building nestled next to Hot Springs National Park has been transformed into a senior apartment community, thanks in part to a $224,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant from BancorpSouth Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas). The grant was awarded in 2016 to McGrew Properties, an affordable housing agency in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

City management, project and bank representatives gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Rose Villa Senior Living, which opened 17 of 25 units this month. The grant was used for renovating the building, which now serves residents age 55 and older living on fixed incomes. The remainder of the units are under construction and are expected to open in the summer of 2018.

Project developer and owner of McGrew Properties, Richard McGrew, said that in his 16 years of rehabilitating properties, this was the most challenging project his team has worked on.

“The building had been sitting empty for so long, it was in rough shape,” he said. “All the copper and metal had been stripped from the building. We had about 20 dumpster trucks haul away debris when we started this project.”

The apartment community is within walking distance of Hot Springs’ historic Bathhouse Row, and will feature a semi-enclosed courtyard and 25 units, each with a kitchen, living area, bathroom and bedroom.

“There is a great need for affordable housing for seniors in this area so we were happy to champion the Rose Villa project when we first learned of it,” said Evelyn Edwards, vice president and community development grant specialist at BancorpSouth Bank. “Rose Villa is a great example of community collaboration and we are proud to support affordable housing initiatives for seniors through the AHP.”

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 BancorpSouth Bank. AHP grants fund a variety of projects, including home rehabilitation and modifications for low-income, elderly and special-needs residents; down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified first-time homebuyers; and the construction of low-income, multifamily rental communities and single-family homes.

Richard and Debbie McGrew founded their residential development firm 16 years ago. In that time, they have built or renovated a dozen buildings for affordable housing, primarily serving low- to moderate-income families. Having learned about the AHP grant while serving on an advisory council with a BancorpSouth representative, Mr. McGrew said this is the company’s first AHP grant, without which, renovation of Rose Villa Senior Community would not have been possible.

“Without the grant and the willingness, cooperation and encouragement of the Whittington Neighborhood organization, this project would not be possible,” said Mr. McGrew. “We believe this will be a great addition to the community by not only cleaning up an eyesore and hazard to the neighborhood but will also offer a very safe and enjoyable community for the future residents.”

In 2017, FHLB Dallas awarded $7 million in grants to 19 affordable housing projects. The grants will help create 1,108 new or rehabilitated housing units. Arkansas received $429,000 this year for the construction or renovation of 42 units. Since the inception of the AHP in 1990, FHLB Dallas has awarded more than $254 million in AHP and AHP-funded grants to assist more than 47,000 families.

“We have valued BancorpSouth’s long-time partnership,” said Greg Hettrick, first vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas. “The completion of this project is another example of their commitment to improving the lives of residents in the communities they serve.”