Two families moved into their new homes in a neighborhood being revitalized on the north side of Fort Smith, Arkansas, thanks to a partnership between a local bank and the nonprofit Crawford Sebastian Community Development Corp. (C-SCDC). The nonprofit is a community action agency working to improve the lives of low-income individuals and families.
Generations Bank (formerly First Bank) is a full-service community bank that owned two lots in the Northside neighborhood, one of C-SCDC’s target communities. "We greatly appreciate our partnership with Generations Bank," says CEO Mark Baker. "Our organization has been working in Northside for the past 15 years, and these two lots helped us advance our revitalization goals."
Many homes were destroyed several years ago when a storm wrought hail and wind damage on an already low-income and impoverished part of Fort Smith. With many of the damaged homes uninsured, they sat for years—deteriorating more over time. The Fort Smith Housing Authority received a grant from the state to purchase the homes and tear them down. The housing authority then donated the lots to CSCDC to build quality, affordable homes for income-eligible buyers. Generations Bank saw all that CSCDC was doing and decided to donate its lots to the nonprofit as well.
Two families—the Picazos and Contreras—visited the CSCDC office around the same time, looking to build homes that would meet their needs.
"Partnerships are key to making homeownership a reality for so many of our clients," says Baker. "Generation Bank provided the lots, and we were able to construct the homes with Fort Smith HOME Investment Partnership Act funds." These funds were recommended to CSCDC last year by the Community Development Advisory Committee and approved by the Fort Smith directors.
Now, both families are happily settled into their new homes, with mortgages they can afford. Down-payment assistance was provided by Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka and Arkansas Development Finance Authority.