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Released August 23, 2004

INSTITUTE'S HOUSING INITIATIVE RECEIVES HUD'S HEROES AWARD

HATTIESBURG -- The Institute for Disability Studies, located at The University of Southern Mississippi, received a HUD Heroes Award for its housing initiatives presented by the Mississippi Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the annual Mississippi Housing Summit on August 5.

IDS was recognized for "bringing the reality of home ownership to Mississippi citizens with disabilities." The institute has worked in the area of home ownership for people with disabilities since the creation of the Home of Your Own program in 1997. Since the inception of the HOYO program, 70 Mississippians with disabilities and their families in 25 counties located around the state have purchased their own homes.

"We're happy to receive this recognition, not for IDS, but to demonstrate that people with disabilities can achieve the American dream by becoming home owners," said Royal Walker, associate director of IDS.

Through HOYO, IDS provides qualifying potential home buyers with home-buyer training, person-centered planning, guidance through the loan process, pre- and post-purchase counseling, referrals for service, and advocacy in support of independent living options.

In addition to the HOYO program, IDS has other complementary housing-related projects. The HOME Investment Partnership Program for the city of Jackson provides HOYO services to people with disabilities and their families purchasing a home within the city limits of Jackson. The HousingSmart project provides education and outreach to ensure equal opportunities in housing and increase home ownership to Mississippians with disabilities. Shelter for All is an almost statewide project working with individuals with disabilities who are or are at risk of becoming homeless.

For more information about any of IDS' housing initiatives, call the Jackson office at 1-866-883-4474.

The Institute for Disability Studies is Mississippi's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Research, Education and Service headquartered for 30 years at Southern Miss. The institute provides university training, community service activities, research, and information that promote the independence, productivity, and community inclusion of individuals with disabilities and their families. For more information about IDS, visit www.usm.edu/ids or call 1-888-671-0051 (TTY).

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September 8, 2004 4:31 PM