Excerpts from the ChicagoSunTimes.com:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday created a $3 million program to help up to 100 police officers, firefighters, and paramedics purchase homes in targeted Chicago neighborhoods. Daley did the same thing in the early 1990’s with only mixed results. 

Now, Emanuel is offering up his own “public safety officer homebuyer assistance” program in a two-fold effort to improve public safety in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence and rebuild long-neglected inner-city neighborhoods.

The mayor said he has worked hard to make key economic investments — in parks, libraries and public transportation — in long-neglected neighborhoods like Woodlawn, Bronzeville, Pullman and Little Village. He has also worked to attract grocery stores and other retail to long-vacant commercial strips so those inner-city neighborhoods can not only stabilize, but flourish.

Many of the eligible officers will be young and new to their departments. That creates stability in home ownership and makes challenging neighborhoods more safe, he said.

The ordinance introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting would tap the Affordable Housing Fund to provide up to $3 million of home buying assistance — enough for 10-year, forgivable loans of $30,000 to 100 police officers, firefighters and paramedics. To qualify, public safety officers must secure a mortgage from a private lender to buy a single-family home or two-flat that would become their primary residence.

The income ceiling would be 150 percent of the median area income. That’s roughly $82,950 a year for single officers and $118,500 a year for a family of four. That would essentially confine the assistance to younger officers.

The homes being purchased would need to be located in parts of six police districts that need both the economic shot in the arm and the added safety that comes with having police officers, firefighters, and paramedics as residents.

Those neighborhoods include parts of: Auburn-Gresham; Austin, Brighton Park; Chatham; East and West Garfield Park; Englewood and West Englewood; Gage Park; Greater Grand Crossing; Humboldt Park; New City and North and South Lawndale.

Over the years, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 have pushed for the city to lift the residency requirement that mandates city employees to live in Chicago.

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