More than 150 Prince William County employees had a lucky day on Tuesday. The county received 323 applications for 167 spots in the Home Help Program. Through this program, the county seeks to cut the number of vacant houses in the county by providing low interest loans and reduced mortgage rates to entry level county employees. These employees will become home owners in Prince William County in the very near future, which is seen as a desirable goal.
According to the DC Examiner:
The plan helps fulfill a long-time county goal to have more public employees living in the county. Martino [county finance director] hopes the program will help Prince William recruit and retain employees, many of whom live outside the county and face long commutes.
The county invested $50 million in certificates of deposit at SunTrust Bank to fund the first year of Home Help. County officials emphasized that the money comes from an investment portfolio and does not use taxpayer money.
The county also plans to use the $4.1 million from the $700 billion federal bailout package passed last fall to buy foreclosure properties. Home Help is just one way the county is attempting to fight back with the number of foreclosures.
Chris Martino, Prince William county Finance Director says that there will be more foreclosures in 2009 but he hopes the worst is over. The county had 8,242 foreclosures in 2008, the highest of any jurisdiction in the state.
Meanwhile, there are probably some mighty happy soon-to-be homeowners this morning. Congratulations to all the winners!
[Update: More comments from winners as posted in the News and Messenger]
Warren County resident Michelle Nemerow’s work commute is about to be cut in half.
The Prince William police officer was one of 167 selected at Tuesday’s lottery drawing for Home Help, a new county program that helps employees with closing costs and down payments so they can buy locally.
“I’ve been a police officer for three years, and my husband is a school teacher … at Brentsville High School,” she said. “We both work in the county but could not afford to buy here when the market was high.”
Thanks to Home Help, Nemerow’s hoped-for summer move to a soon-to-be-selected house in the Bristow area will “improve our quality of life and bring us nearer to family, nearer to our jobs and be better for our [19-month-old] daughter,” she said.
Nemerow was one of 55 uniformed officers randomly selected Tuesday to participate in the program. Also chosen at the 11 a.m. drawing at the McCoart Administrative Building were 56 of 160 school applicants and 56 of 108 general county government and parks employee candidates. The program will be annual; this year’s 323 applicants had all competed over 167 available slots.
Why does this ‘lottery’ help the county? Why is it beneficial to have employees living in the county? I was happy to see that employees other than firefighters and teachers were included in the raffle. All too often other good people get left out. Kudos to the county for spearheading this new venture.