The Mississippi Center for Justice Expands its Heirs’ Property Work with Hope Credit Union Investment of $75,000

March 14, 2024

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Aquita Brown,, (601) 352-2269

The Mississippi Center for Justice Expands its Heirs’ Property Work with Hope Credit Union
Investment of $75,000

The Mississippi Center for Justices Heirs’ Property Initiative Assists Mississippi Communities with
Maintaining their Family Land

JACKSON, Miss., – The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) and HOPE (Hope Credit Union) recently entered into an agreement to expand MCJ’s Heirs’ Property work. HOPE received a $75,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas to support efforts that prevent land loss among Mississippians and provide legal services to address heirs’ property issues. HOPE will use the funds to advance this work through MCJ.

MCJ is the state’s only ‘homegrown’ public interest law firm. MCJ’s Heirs’ Property work launched in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when the organization opened a new office in hard-hit Biloxi to offer legal services to the thousands of Gulf Coast area residents who needed an advocate to help them fight for a fair recovery. Since then, the Center has expanded its heirs’ property program to provide outreach, education, and legal services for individuals and families throughout Mississippi.

“HOPE has been a staunch ally and trusted partner of MCJ for more than two decades, so we appreciate this opportunity to make significant investments in historically underserved communities through our heir’s property work,” said Vangela M. Wade, President and CEO of MCJ. “Helping individuals and families navigate the complex, and often confusing, process of protecting and preserving their land is essential to our efforts to advance racial and economic justice.”

Heirs’ property refers to property inherited without a will or legal documentation of ownership. As property is passed down, each successive generation generally adds more heirs to the inheritance. The absence of a deed or will makes 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.

Through this funding, MCJ will help Mississippi families clear titles to their land in heirship situations, execute wills for landowners, and conduct financial literacy education sessions. Ultimately, these direct legal services, training, and education will help prevent the loss of land, wealth, and forest resources.

“For 30 years, Hope Credit Union has worked to advance ownership among Deep South residents looking to purchase a home, start a business, or open a checking account,” said Bill Bynum, Chief Executive Officer, HOPE. “MCJ’s heirs’ property work addresses a critical need to protect ownership and the opportunity for intergenerational wealth transfer among people and in places for whom it is at risk.”

HOPE has provided a wealth of services to stabilize and strengthen underserved communities in the Deep South for 30 years, generating nearly $4 billion in financing and related services for nonprofits, healthcare providers, small business owners, homeowners, and underbanked individuals. These projects have benefitted nearly 2.7 million people throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

“Partnerships are the foundation of our ability to ensure more Mississippians truly experience racial and economic justice,” said Andrea Barnes, the Director of Heirs’ Property at MCJ. “Because of partnerships with organizations like HOPE, we have expanded and partnered with other organizations, including the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, to provide landowners with forestry education and access to additional funding for forest conservation and responsible forest management. Our partnerships with organizations, families, and communities through our Heirs’ Property program are critical to our mission to advance equitable opportunities for African American, low-income, and historically unserved and underserved Mississippians.”


About the Mississippi Center for Justice
The Mississippi Center for Justice is a nonprofit, public-interest law firm committed to advancing racial, social, and economic justice. Supported and staffed by attorneys and other professionals, the Center develops and pursues strategies to combat discrimination and poverty statewide. The Mississippi Center for Justice was organized to address the urgent need to re-establish in-state advocacy for low-income people and communities of color.

About HOPE
HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union, and Hope Policy Institute) provides financial services; aggregates resources; and engages in advocacy to mitigate the extent to which factors such as race, gender, birthplace, and wealth limit one’s ability to prosper. Since 1994, HOPE has generated more than $3.7 billion in financing that has benefitted nearly 2.7 million people in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Learn more at