Council and CME Federal Credit Union Presents the First Responder Residency Program
Down-payment Assistance Initiative Program Encourages Police Officers and Firefighters to Buy Home in the City
[COLUMBUS, OH] In 2018, amidst concerns regarding police-community relations, Columbus City Councilmember Mitchell J. Brown began the work to create programming he believed would develop and nurture relationships between officers and residents.
"Growing up, I remember knowing the police officers who lived in the neighborhood," said Brown. "I would see them at the grocery store and at church on Sundays. We knew each other."
Brown took a deep dive into the residency of Columbus police officers and firefighters. He discovered that 85.3% of our Columbus police officers and 82% of Columbus firefighters live outside the City limits.
"I vehemently believe living in the community where you work informs how you serve," said Brown.
From that point, Brown began to think about how to get more first responders living in Columbus. This led to the creation of the Safety Forces Residential Incentive Program (SFRIP).
In partnership with CME Federal Credit Union, the program provides police officers and firefighters up to $10,000 in a forgivable loan to be used towards purchasing a home within the city limits. The goal of the program is to increase the number of First Responders to reside within the community and build more positive relationships. The home may be:
- A Single Family dwelling
- A two to four-family unit home
- A condominium
- Any new construction for the aforementioned types of housing
"CME Federal Credit Union was established in 1935, serving City of Columbus Firefighters and Police Officers, said CME Federal Credit Union President/CEO Brian Warner. "A lot has changed since we first opened our doors, but our commitment to delivering Banking that Has Your Back to our members is as strong as the day we started. We are proud to provide valued financial services to our First Responders and central Ohio residents."
Any sworn full-time permanent fire or police personnel who have completed fire or police training in December 2017 or later is eligible for the program. All participating employees are required to sign a Promissory Note and a Restrictive Covenant. Every recipient will be required to reside in the property they purchase for a minimum of 5 years. In addition, they will be required to affirm, via affidavit, annually that the home is their primary residence until the end of the 5-year timeframe. The funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
"Firefighters and police officers have a long-standing relationship with CME Federal Credit Union, so we reached out to ask them to partner with us to administer the program and they graciously agreed," Brown continued.
Council passed SFRIP legislation, ordinance 3210-2019, in December 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the implementation of the program.