April 18, 2024

Through KKAC, Wilbur Peer works to help Black families overcome generational land loss and take their futures back into their own hands. (Photo credit: Walton Family Foundation)

By Arkansas Delta Informer Staff—Arkansas-based KKAC Organization was recently awarded a $75,000 grant to help farmers and landowners resolve heirs’ property issues.

“Heirs’ property” refers to family-owned land passed down without a will and legal documentation held by descendants as “tenants in common.” As property is passed down, each successive generation adds more heirs to the inheritance.

Challenges associated with heirs’ property status are the leading cause of involuntary land loss among Arkansas’s African American farmers and landowners. The absence of a deed or will can make obtaining a clear title to land or homes more complicated as time passes. The inability to provide a clear title can make it difficult for families to transfer or obtain loans on the impacted property.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) has awarded $905,200 in Heirs’ Property Program grants to assist 21 organizations with preventing or remediating heirs’ property issues. KKAC was the lone Arkansas recipient of the federal award. KKAC received funding through FHLB member Southern Bancorp, the Arkansas-based Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

Founded by the Peer Farm Group family that owns agriculture operations in Lee and Phillips counties, KKAC educates minority youth about production agriculture and agriculture business. In a recent story by the Walton Family Foundation,

“We’ve managed to lose more than $325 billion in wealth. A big part of that is discriminatory practices, but it’s also because we don’t do proper estate planning,” says Wilbur Peer, founder of KKAC, a Black land ownership organization based in the Arkansas Delta with offices in downtown Little Rock.

KKAC also conducts outreach to minority farmers, ranchers and landowners on estate planning, land management, and wealth-building opportunities through the U.S. Department of Arkansas and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, formerly the Soil Conservation Service.

One of KKAC’s Foundation programs is its Heirs’ Property Clearinghouse, created with support from the Walton Family Foundation and designed to clear up issues related to inherited property. Peer estimates that 30% of Black-owned land, which could have been passed down to future generations, has been lost due to a failure to make wills and trusts.

The FHLB grants, awarded through 15 participating members, will clear an estimated 442 titles and prevent heirs’ property issues for more than 900 individuals. The funding is also expected to assist more than 8,200 people with training and education.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 11 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $147.6 billion, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to approximately 800 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas

For 2024, FHLB Dallas has allocated $2 million in Heirs’ Property Program funds to assist organizations such as nonprofit, governmental and tribal entities with initiatives that help prevent or address heirs’ property issues. All organizations receiving grant awards are in the FHLB Dallas’ district, including Arkansas.

Requests for a Heirs’ Property Program award may range up to $100,000 per organization, depending on its use, projected outcomes, and experience in addressing heirs’ property-related issues.

In the inaugural 2023 funding round, organizations could receive up to $75,000. Awardees included affordable housing associations, community development groups, legal aid organizations and a university.

The next application window for Heirs’ Property Program awards opens on Sept. 3, 2024, and closes on September 30. For the next round, the total allocation has increased to $2 million, and recipients can receive up to $100,000 each. Recipients must be in FHLB Dallas’ five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico or Texas and meet the program’s requirements.

“We were extremely pleased with the widespread interest in the program during its rollout,” said Greg Hettrick, senior vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas. See a full list of the awards. For more information about the Heirs’ Property Program, visit fhlb.com/heirs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *