The trees were overgrown and the grass needed mowing, but Darnell Jackson saw a diamond in the rough.

“I knew when we pulled up and parked in the driveway, that this was the house,” said Mr. Jackson, who moved back to Arkansas from Nebraska three years ago to be closer to family.

An $8,500 Homebuyer Equity Leverage Partnership (HELP) grant from Centennial Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) made it possible for Mr. Jackson to buy his first home.

HELP, provided by FHLB Dallas through member institutions such as Centennial Bank, assists income-qualified, first-time homebuyers with down payment assistance and closing costs.

FHLB Dallas disburses HELP funds to its member institutions on a first-come, first-served basis. The funds, made available in January, are available until they are exhausted or until December 31, 2018, whichever occurs first. The $2 million in HELP grants FHLB Dallas made available this year has been exhausted.

“The yard was overgrown, but I had a vision for what it could look like,” said Mr. Jackson. A large backyard where his son could play was also a big attraction for the Jackson family, who had spent the past three years in an apartment. Mr. Jackson, 52, a service technician at a local electric motor repair company, lives in the home with his wife, his 6-year-old son and their dog.

A friendly neighborhood, he said, has been a bonus they discovered after moving into the home this spring. “Neighbors have been bringing us eggs and garden vegetables and coming over to introduce themselves,” he said.

Mr. Jackson said his wife, Lisa, discovered the HELP grant while doing homebuying research. He said he’s not sure he would have been able to purchase the home without the HELP grant.

“Owning your own home is a life-changing event, and we are so glad that it’s been a great experience for the Jackson family,” said Jera Horton, CRA officer at Centennial Bank. “This wouldn’t be possible without our partnership with FHLB Dallas.”

Greg Hettrick, first vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas, said HELP grants make the American Dream possible while stabilizing communities.

“HELP is a great program that takes care of a portion of the out-of-pocket expenses for hard-working residents who want to put down roots in their communities, but have been stymied by the up-front costs associated with buying a home,” Mr. Hettrick said. “Our partnership with Centennial Bank is the key that opens the door to homeownership for people like Mr. Jackson.”