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A Message From Our President, Jeff Kuzbel By Jeffrey Kuzbel May 15, 2024
 

Since my last update to members in March, I had the pleasure of interacting with many of you at our Annual Management Conference (AMC) in Overland Park. Hearing your perspective on what’s happening in communities district-wide is essential information for me and all of us at FHLBank Topeka. As your cooperative, our purpose is to serve you. Conversations like the ones had at the AMC give us more insight into your needs.

As I explained during my address at the AMC, we are focused on being the Model FHLBank for all stakeholders, especially our members. This means that every decision we make is evaluated through this lens. Providing an exemplary member experience, leading risk management practices and mission leadership for housing, economic and community development are all pillars of success for us.

Top-tier financial performance is also an essential part of being a Model FHLBank, protecting your investment in your cooperative. If you haven’t reviewed our latest financials, you can see our first quarter 10-Q on our website. The positive financial performance translates to competitive dividends, reduces the overall cost of borrowing from FHLBank, and funds our affordable housing and community development efforts, which build and strengthen your communities.

Changes to our Executive Team
Lance Liby, who previously served as chief credit officer, was named chief business officer in April when Dan Hess retired.

Lance joined FHLBank Topeka in May 2013 as director of Credit Analytics. He has served as chief credit officer since 2017. Prior to joining FHLBank, he was vice president at Mortgage Liquidity Solutions and a consultant with the Rochdale Group. In addition, he was the Senior Manager of Credit Risk at U.S. Central Federal Credit Union for eight years. Lance has a bachelor of science in business administration from Kansas State University and master's of business administration from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. I am happy to welcome Lance to his new role and am excited for Lance’s vision for building on FHLBank’s strong relationship with our members.

With Lance’s move to chief business officer, the chief credit officer role was open. I am pleased that Josh Clark, our former associate chief risk officer, has filled the position. Josh joined FHLBank in 2004 and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Washburn University in Topeka and is a Certified Public Accountant.

We are also in the process of filling our chief financial officer position, which I held until I became president. We will let you know once we have made a selection.

Digital Transformation
Last week, our new Master Transaction Agreement (MTA) went into effect for our members. The MTA combines 10 FHLBank agreements into one electronic document to give your institution the power to efficiently manage online authorization control through our Members Only website.

As with any change, we know this required a commitment from your teams. We truly appreciate the time and attention dedicated to this request. The changes to our member portal are setting the stage for additional efficiencies and transactional capabilities in the future. These efforts fulfill another pillar of our success toward our goal of being a Model FHLBank - technology and business process excellence.

We are always here to support your efforts. Please contact our Product Administration team at 800.809.2733 or FHLB_ProdAdmin@fhlbtopeka.com if you have additional questions about the upgrades.

Building Communities Together
In my last message, I told you about our new suite of downpayment assistance programs, called TurnKey. Since the programs opened March 4, we’ve seen tremendous interest.

The new Homeownership Possibilities Expanded (HOPE) Program helps homebuyers with incomes up to 150% of the area median income who do not traditionally receive support. This program’s $4.1 million in funding was reserved within two weeks of the program’s start. On May 3, several FHLBank Topeka team members traveled to Hutchinson, Kansas, to celebrate the very first HOPE grant recipient. Read more in this Hutch Post story.

Funding for the traditional Homeownership Set-aside Program (HSP) has been exhausted as well. Because of our strong results in 2023, we had a record $12.9 million available in HSP. It was reserved faster than ever before by May 1. The last program in our TurnKey suite, HSP+, still has funds available. If you serve first-time homebuyers in high-cost or non-metropolitan difficult development areas, learn how you can take part.

Next up for our housing and community development efforts is the opening of the Native American Housing Initiatives (NAHI) Grants Program. Applications are open June 3 to July 12. NAHI provides Native American tribes and tribally designated housing entities with access to grant funds to build communities supporting tribal members in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

In 2023, seven members partnered with us to fulfill $3 million in NAHI grants. In 2024, we expect to fund $3.6 million in requests. On Monday, we conducted a webinar with members and Native American tribal contacts. If you were unable to join us live, the recording will be posted on the NAHI page this week.

Applications for our competitive Affordable Housing Program (AHP) open July 1 with $29 million in grant funding available. The AHP has long been an important funding source for owner-occupied and rental projects. As a member, we encourage you to partner with housing developers in your community to submit AHP grant applications for up to $1.5 million.

Finally, our Community Development Program and Community Housing Program are special advance programs available year-round through a simple, non-competitive application process subject to collateral and credit considerations. The CDP helps members finance qualifying commercial loans, farm loans and economic development initiatives. The CHP helps finance qualifying owner-occupied and rental housing. Please contact our Housing and Community Development department at 866.571.8155 or HCDCSP@fhlbtopeka.com to inquire about participating in these special advance programs.

Sometimes seeing examples of how others have successfully used these products can fuel your own ideas. We recently released our Affordable Housing Advisory Council Annual Report, which showcases how members have partnered with FHLBank and local nonprofits to make a difference. I hope you will take a look and share my pride in the difference we’re making together.

As I close, I want to let you know about an additional opportunity we are offering for members – our new quarterly Financial Intelligence Live webinar series. Join our Sales, Marketing and Member Solutions team for a glimpse into the rich data we have about current district trends. The first quarterly webinar is 2 p.m. CT May 21. We are offering one CPE credit for attendance. You can register on our Events page.

We appreciate partnering with you to fulfill our dual mission that includes both foundational liquidity and affordable housing and economic and community development. Please reach out to me or anyone on our team if you have suggestions on how we can better serve you.

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Jeffrey Kuzbel
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