City Launches Pilot Program to Help Sworn Police Officers and Firefighters Buy Homes and Live in the City
Mayor John Hamilton announced the launch of a $100,000 no-interest, down-payment assistance pilot program to help up to 10 police officers and 10 firefighters purchase homes, as an incentive to serve and live in the city of Bloomington. This pilot program will pay $10,000 per year over ten years to sworn public safety officers to pay off the down-payment loan and ultimately provide $100,000 in home equity.
To be eligible for the program, participants must have been employed for one year and completed training and their probationary period. To receive the full benefit, they must remain employed with the City as a sworn firefighter or police officer throughout the 10-year term. The officers and firefighters must purchase a property within the City of Bloomington with an approved mortgage and maintain the property as their primary residence.
The innovative program, among the nation’s most generous, is designed to accomplish several objectives. First, attracting and retaining sworn police officers and firefighters is an ongoing concern in Bloomington and nationwide, and by providing substantial financial support over ten years, the pilot program seeks both to attract and retain officers more successfully.
Second, by enabling police officers and firefighters to live in the city where they work, better and deeper community connections are encouraged, and neighborhoods are safer with first responders living there. Mayor Hamilton has often said the more our community knows about our first responders the better, and vice versa. Living in city neighborhoods with their families enhances those connections. It also reduces crucial travel time in the event of an emergency situation.
Third, by helping first responders buy homes in Bloomington and paying down their mortgages over 10 years, the departments are helping employees build wealth and stability over time. After 10 years of service, participants will have gained $100,000 in home equity paid for by the City.
“Our community strongly supports our public safety sworn officers in many ways,” said Mayor Hamilton. “This pilot program is designed to take that to another level, to help more of our dedicated professionals live right in our community, and to help them build connections and value through their years of service. I sincerely hope we see 20 folks take advantage of this pilot program and encourage our city government to expand it to more participants. I appreciate the support of the City Council thus far in launching this pilot.”
The City is collaborating on the program with JustChoice Lending, a division of Fahe, an experienced mortgage lender with a mission to expand opportunity for all, which will provide the down-payment loan. Participants can also apply for their regular purchase mortgage with JustChoice Lending, or use any other first mortgage lender. Fahe and the city signed the cooperation agreement this week.
Mayor Hamilton announced his intention to develop this program in February, diversifying incentives in place for sworn police officers and firefighters. These include $750 in monthly rental assistance and $18,000 in one-time down-payment assistance for those who rent or purchase homes in the city, both of which are currently available.
A maximum of 10 sworn police officers and 10 firefighters will be able to take advantage of this pilot program; several eligible staff have already indicated their interest. New hires are eligible after one year of service, and transfers are available immediately if they have at least three years of relevant experience. Others who are interested in the program will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis; they should contact City Human Resources at email@example.com.
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