An incentive program used to help Chattanooga police officers become homeowners in the city they serve will now be expanded to include firefighters.
On Thursday, officials with Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, Mayor Ron Littlefield and Fire Chief Randy Parker announced that the recently introduced Police Fund for Homeownership would be applicable to all sworn officers. Introduced in February of last year, the program offers incentives to promote homeownership within Chattanooga city limits.
All sworn personnel are eligible to participate in the program. Through the fund, officers and firefighters can receive $10,000 toward the purchase of a single-family home anywhere in the city and $20,000 toward a home purchase in the neighborhoods of Bushtown, Orchard Knob, Highland Park and Glenwood, where CNE is already making efforts to revitalize portions of the community. The funds are offered through a no-interest loan, which is forgivable after a five-year period.
Nick Wilkinson, director of development for CNE, said that since the program's implementation, seven police officers had closed on homes.
"This is an innovate addition to an already-innovative program," he said.
Offering brief remarks, Littlefield said the program would offer communities a "real advantage and a real comfort" to neighborhoods by potentially luring the city's sworn personnel to become residents.
"They just bring a calm, an element to a neighborhood that is really hard to achieve in any other way," Littlefield said.
In addition to receiving the incentive, participants in the program will be required to attend CNE's eight-hour homebuyer education class. Participants will also be required to meet with a CNE counselor to help them determine if additional incentives can be made available to them.
Firefighters who are interested in the program can contact either CNE or Parker for additional information. In brief remarks, Parker said that since the incentives had been offered to firefighters roughly a month ago, one had already taken steps to close on a home.
"We're excited to be a part of this," Parker said.