Three months after being awarded funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the Stimulus Package, BCD has signed a contract to receive the funds. BCD will receive at least $2.8 million to develop a minimum of 30 homes in Midtown Little Rock. The single and multi-family units will be for low income and upper middle class families.
The total amount of the grant is $8.6 million, which will be distributed among a consortium that includes the City of Little Rock, Habitat for Humanity, Little Rock Housing Authority, and BCD
It's a problem many homeowners face; needing pricey home repairs but not having the money to pay for them. It's a problem that Juanita Wilkins of Little Rock could relate to. Wilkins has lived in her 3 bedroom brick home on Westwood Avenue for 12 years, and over the years falling branches and limbs from nearby trees damaged her roof. After discovering that insurance wouldn't pay for the repair, Wilkins began to save up money in order to replace her roof.
Through her church, Wilkins then learned of SNAP, or the Special Needs Assistance Program. The grant program was created by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas to assist eligible homeowners who are in desperate need of home repairs and have no other available resource. Each homeowner may receive between $5,000 and $7,000 for repairs. Locally, BCD, Inc. has partnered with Bank of the Ozarks, Centennial Bank and Eagle Bank to submit the grant application and distribute the funds.
Wilkins said, "The funds helped to retain the value of my home and allowed me to make repairs that I would not have readily been able to complete."
To date, BCD using SNAP funds has helped more than 30 Arkansas families with home repairs.
"It was a dream, and now it's getting closer to a reality, like all dreams that people really pursue," said Faruq Rasheed. Rasheed is talking about the dream he and his wife Zandra had of moving from Lawton, Oklahoma to Little Rock and living in a neighborhood the Islamic Center for Human Excellence has dubbed the "New Africa" subdivision. It's an area located along W. 40th Street that is home to four families of different religious denominations including Baptist and Jehovah's Witness.
The Rasheeds are the first Muslim family to move into the neighborhood, and like the other families they used BCD's Affordable Homebuyer Program to purchase and build their home. Despite the challenges of directing the construction of his home from hundreds of miles away in Lawton, Rasheed calls his experience working with BCD Housing Director Darryl Swinton "pleasant". He said Swinton has provided regular progress updates by phone and e-mail. The Rasheeds plan to move into their 3-bedroom, 2 ½ bathroom house in January, and they're already looking forward to having guests.
"We have two sons and grandchildren, and I'm sure they'll come to visit. Plus everyone we know wants to come visit now," said Rasheed with a chuckle.
He also said, "I'm really pleased to see an organization like BCD. We don't have anything comparable to it in Lawton, Oklahoma. But we need something."
Three of the homes in the "New Africa" subdivision were built using funds from the City of Little Rock Home Program/HUD and Metropolitan Bank.