Good news travels fast as Kirsten Rinne, Loan Officer for Peoples State Bank of Munising learned when she began talking about the FHLBI’s Neighborhood Impact Program (NIP) to members of her community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. NIP is one of three affordable housing grant programs FHLBI offers to members to support their low-income cusutomers. Recipients can use it for needed home repairs such as roofing or a new water heater.
“Our involvement with NIP began after a conversation I had with the Munising Mayor and our CEO about FHLBI’s new program called the Accessibility Modifications Program,” explained Rinne. “We checked into qualifying for that program and then learned about NIP and decided that we could help even more people by using that as well.”
Rinne then began her own grassroots marketing campaign. As president of the local Kiwanis, she spoke to the group about NIP. After another Kiwanian ran an article on NIP in a newsletter and Rinne inserted an item in her church's bulletin, it didn't take long for her phone to start ringing.
Once Rinne conducts an initial phone conversation with potential NIP grant recipients, she meets with them in their homes, and they fill out the application together. Rinne believes this helps relieve any nervousness customers might have about the process and builds a stronger relationship with the bank.
One family of seven is especially grateful for the NIP grant they received from Peoples State Bank. The grant was used to purchase and install a safe, energy-efficient outdoor wood furnace. Rinne related that the family had an ancient wood burner in their basement that was inefficient, a fire hazard, and aggravated the children’s allergies.
Other people receiving grants include seniors on fixed incomes who want to stay in their homes but often can’t afford the full cost of repairs.“The NIP grants help lower energy costs and increase a home’s warmth and comfort while also improving the home’s value and aesthetics,” said Rinne. “The impact on a grant recipient’s quality of life is tremendous.” Rinne is so impressed with how a NIP grant can make a difference in her customers’ lives that when one customer asked Rinne, “What’s in it for you?” she responded, “I do it for the hugs.”
Peoples State Bank has disbursed over $57,000 in grants to local homeowners, mainly for new furnaces, water heaters and roofing. These are all critical needs for “Yoopers,” as they are affectionately called, who endure long, cold winters that can bring over 300 inches of snowfall to the area.
Help is readily available for members interested in participating in NIP or any other homeownership initiative. FHLBI’s knowledgeable staff can assist with the application and disbursement process, and resources explaining program requirements and eligibility guidelines are posted in the Community Investment section at fhlbi.com.
“We understand that at first glance the process may seem a bit intimidating, but if members need assistance, we are happy to answer all of their questions and guide them through the process,” said Shannon Fountain, FHLBI’s Community Lending Manager.
For more information about FHLBI's Homeownership Initiatives, contact Shannon Fountain at 317.465.0428 or firstname.lastname@example.org.