- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - The Dubuque City Council approved a financial incentives package for police officers and firefighters buying homes in the city’s downtown area.

Council members voted Monday to create a program providing no-interest, forgivable loans to officers and firefighters to buy and rehabilitate houses in the downtown urban renewal district.

The Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/1dK58CQ ) reported that the Officer at Home initiative requires the officer or firefighter to live in the property for at least five years after purchase and get a letter of commitment from an approved lender. Housing and Community Development Director Alvin Nash said the city plans to initially offer up to $120,000 in home loans.

An ordinance already on the books requires all city employees to live in Iowa within 6.5 miles of city limits.

Dubuque officials recently scaled back incentives for first-time homebuyers and low-income families looking to repair their homes. But Nash said the new program “doesn’t take our eye off providing affordable, decent housing for people. It’s not choosing between one and the other.”



Police department officials believe the program will help with recruitment. Assistant Police Chief Terry Tobin said the program would be attractive to “the younger generation of officer wanting to be closer to their workplace and within walking distance of certain amenities.”

City leaders also hope the Officer at Home program promotes a sense of safety and security downtown. Nash said “people feel good having these officers and firefighters in the community, investing in the neighborhood’s revitalization.” He added that respected members of the community “participating in city renewal efforts certainly will encourage others to do the same.”

Police Chief Mark Dalsing said one officer has started working to acquire a property in the downtown district.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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