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Police Homeowner Loan Program
USA

Keyword: Crime Prevention

Background

The award-winning Police Homeowner Loan Program offers Columbia police officers low-interest (4%), short-term (20 year) financing with no down payment for the purchase of rehabilitated houses in low-income, inner-city neighborhoods. The program evolved from the Community Development Department's purchase-rehabilitation program for low-income neighborhoods. Prior to the inception of this program in 1995 few police lived in these neighborhoods. Residents report that a police officer moving into a neighborhood serves as a deterrent to criminal activity and the program forms a basis for community policing.


Narrative

The award-winning Police Homeowner Loan Program offers police officers low-interest (4%), short-term (20 year) financing with no down payment for the purchase of rehabilitated houses in low-income, inner-city neighborhoods in Columbia. The funds are provided through bond refinancing savings Community Development Block Grant, and city funds. A partnership with area lenders provides the below-market-rate loans. The program evolved from the Community Development Department's purchase-rehabilitation program for low-income neighborhoods. In some areas, however crime had generated fear and instability--discouraging participation. At that time, the Police Department was initiating several community-based policing initiatives, attempting to place itself on a more accessible level. The Police Homeowner Loan Program made a strong statement, with Columbia police officers literally buying into the communities they serve.

Prior to the inception of this program in 1990, few police lived in these neighborhoods. Through the program, 16 homes have been rehabilitated. Officers taking part include 9 white and 7 African-American officers, including three policewomen. Participants range in age from 23 to 49, and 7 have children. Community support for the program is very strong: two low-income neighborhoods near the target neighborhood demanded the city also recruit police homeowners for deteriorated houses in their areas, and this has now taken place. Residents report that a police officer moving into a neighborhood serves as a deterrent to criminal activity and the program forms a basis for community policing. The program 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 of numerous awards, including the Innovations in State and Local Government Award sponsored by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Ford Foundation, which carried a $100,000 grant. Over 70 communities of all sizes have replicated the Police Homeowner Loan Program, and Columbia has produced a video and brochure in response to the demand for explanatory materials.


Impact

  • 16 officers bought homes in the inner city;
  • 70 communities have adopted the program.

Sustainability

Over 70 communities around the country have replicated the Police Homeownership Loan Program.


Contact

    Columbia, SC-Community Development
    1225 Laurel Street, P.O. Box 147
    Columbia
    South Carolina
    USA
    29217
    (803) 733-8315

Sponsor

    City of Columbia, SC-Community Development
    1225 Laurel Street, P.O. Box 147
    Columbia
    SC
    USA
    29217
    (803) 733-8315

Partners

    Local government, local lenders, and community-based organizations
    Semon, Richard J.
    1225 Laurel Street, P.O. Box 147
    Columbia
    SC
    USA
    29217
    (803) 733-8315


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