Tupelo, Miss. -- BancorpSouth Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BancorpSouth, Inc. (NYSE: BXS), a $13.5 billion-asset financial holding company, recently joined with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) to provide a $168,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant to the Pine Belt Healthcare Resources in Hattiesburg.
The grant will make it possible for Pine Belt to construct a 24-unit apartment community, Oak Arbor Apartments, to provide extended services to homeless veterans battling substance abuse and mental illness.
Construction began earlier this month on the 13,325-square-foot apartment community. With an aggressive timeline, officials at Pine Belt hope to have residents moving in by this October.
"The new apartments will allow us to expand our secondary services so that residents can stay longer on our campus," said Joel Downey of Hattiesburg, housing specialist at Pine Belt. "With the current war lasting so long, we have seen an influx of veterans return to our area that are in need of special care regarding addictions, substance abuse, and mental illness. The Oak Arbor Apartments will provide a home for residents who have completed primary treatment, but are not ready to re-enter society."
Pine Belt works closely with the Clear View Recovery Center in Hattiesburg to address the primary needs of male veterans returning from the armed services. Once the patients have completed primary care, they will have the option to move into Oak Arbor Apartments, where residents will live independently but still under the supervision and care of Pine Belt.
Oak Arbor will provide safety, individual space, cleanliness, and help restore dignity to recovering veterans. Because the apartments are affiliated with the Pine Belt campus, residents are still subject to random searches and must abide by campus guidelines and restrictions.
Pine Belt's goal is to provide extended care and supervision to recovering veterans so that when they re-enter society, they are happy and productive individuals.
"Oak Arbor Apartments is the first of its kind in our area," said Stacy Thompson, CRA coordinator at BancorpSouth in Hattiesburg. Ms. Thompson helped facilitate the AHP grant through FHLB Dallas for Pine Belt, and said the project will make a tremendous difference in the options local veterans have to find mental and physical rehabilitation in Forrest County.
"Pine Belt is a very well established organization in our community," Thompson explained. "Hattiesburg is limited on resources to assist veterans in need. Many come back from service and end up homeless and on the streets. The services of Pine Belt give veterans a place to go and recover, and this new apartment community will give them a clean and safe place to live as they continue their rehab.
"This is an extraordinary project for our community, and Pine Belt is a well organized and finely-tuned institution. BancorpSouth is happy to take part in their endeavors," she added.