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$3 Million Would Help Police, Firefighters Buy Homes On South, West Sides

By Heather Cherone | May 24, 2017 11:35am | Updated on May 26, 2017 9:16am
 Chicago Police officer
Chicago Police officer
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DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer

CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wednesday proposed using $3 million in city money to encourage 100 police officers, firefighters and paramedics to buy homes on the South and West sides of the city.

The program — which would allow public safety officers to purchase single-family or two-flat homes in Auburn Gresham, Austin, Brighton Park, Chatham, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Gage Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, New City, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, West Englewood and West Garfield Park — is designed to increase public safety and support continued economic development, according to a statement from the mayor's office.

"This program will create an incentive for public safety officers to live where they work, which will in turn improve those neighborhoods," Emanuel said.

Those areas of the city included in the program "need new investment and increased public safety," according to a statement from the mayor's office.

The program would be funded by the city's Affordable Housing Fund, which developers pay into in lieu of building units for low-income residents, officials said.

Participants in the program would be offered a 10-year forgivable loan of $30,000, officials said. The loan balance will be reduced every full year the public safety officer lives in the home as a primary residence. Any remaining portion of the loan would have to be repaid if the home is sold before the 10-year period is up, officials said.

Participants will have to secure a private mortgage loan, and may not earn more than 150 percent of area median income, which is $118,500 for a family of four, officials said.

Chicago police officers, firefighters and paramedics — along with all city employees — are required to live in the city of Chicago.

Earlier this year, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin proposed giving law enforcement officers free homes if they committed to living in Englewood, Austin, Garfield Park, Auburn Gresham and Back of the Yards for five years.