AZTEC, N.M., May 26, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- At 22 years old, Ericah Paschall has already achieved the American dream. For the past several years, Ms. Paschall, who works as an office manager at an oil and gas company, has moved in and out of her parent's house in effort to start a life of her own. Each time she tried to find her own place, the rent would suddenly skyrocket, forcing her and her three-year-old daughter to move back home.

"Rent is very expensive in Aztec, and is steadily rising," said Ms. Paschall. "Every time I tried to settle into a place of my own, something would happen or my rent would increase dramatically. There was a lot of back and forth for a while."

Ms. Paschall's parents serve on the board of the local Boys and Girls Club, where a flyer was posted advertising the Economic Council Helping Others Inc. (ECHO) first-time homebuyer program, ECHO HOPE (Home Ownership Problems Eliminated). Ms. Paschall's mother brought the flyer home, thinking it may be the perfect opportunity for her daughter to have a place of her own.

"I attended the education course at ECHO and learned about the program, but didn't think I would qualify," said Ms. Paschall. "A few weeks later, I received a call from them asking why I had not applied for the program."

Rosalyn Fry, housing director at ECHO, made that phone call to Ms. Paschall and encouraged her to apply for the program. She explained that ECHO partners with Four Corners Community Bank to facilitate Homebuyer Equity Leverage Partnership (HELP) grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas).

HELP, a first-time homebuyer program available through FHLB Dallas member institutions, such as Four Corners Community Bank, provides grant funds to assist income-qualified, first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing costs on a newly constructed or existing home. In 2010, FHLB Dallas set aside $3 million in HELP funds to provide eligible recipients up to $5,000.   The amount may be increased up to $7,000 if a member financial institution or another mortgage lender contributes at least $350 toward costs associated with providing the mortgage to the homeowner.

Ms. Paschall moved into her newly constructed 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home in mid-May. She said she is very excited to have her own place and not have to answer to a landlord. The $5,000 HELP grant assisted Ms. Paschall with down payment and closing costs on her home. Ms. Paschall said she is especially excited that her daughter, Reagan, will have her own room. While under construction, Ms. Paschall was able to choose the carpet, flooring, paint, and cabinets for her home and looks forward to decorating it exactly as she pleases.

"This was just an incredible experience for me," said Ms. Paschall. "I am so happy that I had this opportunity and that I was able to get into my own home at such a young age. I know several single parents, and I have referred them to ECHO and encouraged them to look into the HELP program."

Ms. Fry was also able to provide Ms. Paschall with additional funds from the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority. The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority partnered with ECHO to provide an $8,000 subsidy from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Home funds. Ms. Fry was able to secure a portion of the funds to help reduce the principal on Ms. Paschall's home and lower the monthly mortgage. Her mortgage payment is now less than what she paid in rent at previous rental properties.

"Ericah was absolutely shocked when she found out she qualified for the HELP grant and could own her home," said Ms. Fry.  "There are so many young families and single parents in our area that face high housing costs. A median income will not support the price of a median-priced home. Many people below the median income do not know this type of program exists, and ECHO offers one of the only housing programs like this in our area."

2010 is the first year ECHO has worked with Four Corners Community Bank to obtain HELP grants. Through this partnership, ECHO has awarded four HELP grants. Ms. Fry said more applications are pending and plans to submit additional applications while funds are available. 

"Four Corners Community Bank has been a tremendous partner for us," said Ms. Fry. "They really care about what we do and helping the community.   This is our first year to work together for HELP grants and it has already been a success."

Ms. Fry explained that ECHO processes its homebuyer mortgages through a USDA 502 direct loan. Therefore, Four Corners Community Bank does not receive additional business by facilitating the FHLB Dallas HELP grants.

"Four Corners Community Bank is solely doing this to help our community," said Ms. Fry.

Four Corners Community Bank also contributes to other ECHO programs. Their partnership has proven to be a great resource to the community.

"Four Corners Community Bank is dedicated to serving our community," said Leslie Schnell, compliance officer at Four Corners Community Bank. "We are proud to partner with ECHO to assist first-time homebuyers in our area, and the HELP program has proven to be a perfect fit for ECHO's needs."

ECHO is hosting an open house on Wednesday, June 16, in the Pioneer Heights subdivision at 3372 J. F. Scott Street in Aztec. The event will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. It is a statewide event that will showcase ECHO HOPE's program in San Juan County and highlight the recent first-time homebuyers assisted by ECHO. Terry Brunner, state director for USDA New Mexico, will speak about the importance of ECHO and the rural development program. A hard hat tour of the homes will follow after Mr. Brunner's presentation.

For more information regarding the ECHO open house, please contact Rosalyn Fry, Ryan Downey or Herman Sedano at 505-325-7466. 

For more information about FHLB Dallas and its programs, contact the Corporate Communications Department at 214.441.8445.

About ECHO

The Economic Council Helping Others Inc. (ECHO) was established in 1967 in Farmington, New Mexico, as a 501-c-3 nonprofit that administers numerous programs throughout the northern half of New Mexico. Its services include a variety of food programs ranging from USDA Commodity Food Programs to individual emergency food assistance, an emergency financial assistance program, a full-service pre-school, and the HOPE (Home Ownership Problems Eliminated) housing program, which is the only affordable housing program available in San Juan County to assist qualified recipients for low-interest USDA mortgages. ECHO also offers free first-time homebuyer and financial literacy classes and assists with setting up Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) for qualified recipients. For more information about ECHO and its programs, please contact Rosalyn Fry, Ryan Downey or Herman Sedano at 505-325-7466 or visit echoinc.org.

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) is one of 12 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932.  FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $58.7 billion as of March 31, 2010, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to more than 900 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas.  For more information, visit the FHLB Dallas web site at fhlb.com.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=3013

Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
Corporate Communications
(214) 441-8445
www.fhlb.com