- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Kettering University is encouraging its faculty and staff to become home owners in neighborhoods near its Flint campus.

A new program provides eligible employees with $15,000 forgivable loans to buy and live in houses in the Mott Park, Glendale Hills and Historic Carriage Town neighborhoods, the school said Monday.

A $5,000 forgivable loan for exterior improvements also will be available to employees who already live in those neighborhoods.

Kettering had been working on the program before the city’s 2014 switch from Detroit water to the Flint River, President Robert McMahan told The Associated Press.

Lead from aging pipes leached into some city homes. Tests also have shown high lead levels in some children.

Flint has since switched back to water from Detroit’s system.

“We understand the nature of the problem and we understand what its causes are and we understand what its solutions are,” McMahan said. “We will work with the faculty or staff to make sure the house is safe and conforms to water safety guidelines.”

Kettering specializes in science, technology, engineering and math, in addition to business education.

It has about 2,000 undergraduate students, 500 graduate students and 500 employees.

“We’re an urban university,” McMahan said. “The university and the neighborhoods that surround us are inextricably bound together. A vibrant residential community increases the vitality of the campus community.”

The home-buying program “acts, hopefully, as a reaffirmation in our belief in the future of Flint,” he added. “As we recover from the water situation, it’s important for us to show unwavering commitment to the redevelopment of our city.”

Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association president Sue Goering hopes the program will bring attention to the city’s historic neighborhoods.

“What a generous neighbor Kettering is,” Goering said in a release. “I say that all the time and how happy we are as a neighborhood to have Kettering as a neighbor. They always reach past their campus to make a difference.”

A similar program in Detroit included loans for Wayne State University employees for new home purchases and rental leases in that city’s Midtown neighborhood.

A recent gift by two Albion College alumni also includes forgivable loans for faculty and staff wanting to build or buy homes within walking distance of that campus. The money can be used for down payments or renovations.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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