Theaward-winning Police Homeowner Loan Program offers police officers low-interest(4%), short-term (20 year) financing with no down payment for the purchase ofrehabilitated houses in low-income, inner-city neighborhoods in Columbia. Thefunds are provided through bond refinancing savings Community Development BlockGrant, and city funds. A partnership with area lenders provides thebelow-market-rate loans. The program evolved from the Community DevelopmentDepartment's purchase-rehabilitation program for low-income neighborhoods. Insome areas, however crime had generated fear and instability--discouragingparticipation. At that time, the Police Department was initiating severalcommunity-based policing initiatives, attempting to place itself on a moreaccessible level. The Police Homeowner Loan Program made a strong statement,with Columabia police officers literally buying into the communities theyserve.
Prior to the inception of this program in 1990, few police lived in theseneighborhoods. Through the program,16 homes have been rehabilitated. Officerstaking part include 9 white and 7 African-American officers, including threepolicewomen. Participants range in age from 23 to 49, and 7 have children.Community support for the program is very strong: two low-income neighborhoodsnear the target neighborhood demanded the city also recurit police homeownersfor deteriorated houses in their areas, and this has now taken place. Residentsreport that a police officer moving into a neighborhood serves as a deterrentto criminal activity and the program forms a basis for community policing. Theprogram has been featured in Parade Magazine, the NBC News with Tom Brokaw,ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, and CNN. It is the winner ofnumerous awards, including the Innovations in State and Local Government Awardsponsored by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University andthe Ford Foundation, which carried a $100,000 grant. Over 70 communities of allsizes have replicated the Police Homeowner Loan Program, and Columbia hasproduced a video and brochure in response to the demand for explanatorymaterials.
Over 70 communities around the country have replicated the Police HomeownershipLoan Program.
16 officers bought homes in the inner city
70 communities have adopted the program