HELPER Act Will Help Police Officers Afford Home Ownership

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) held a joint press conference last week announcing details of the Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator and Responder (HELPER) Act.

The bipartisan legislation is designed to allow police officers, firefighters, and other first responders to afford homes in the communities they serve. It is also expected to assist local governments in recruiting public service employees.

The bill is intended to provide a “one-time use” residential loan to qualified personnel that includes teachers along with public safety employees.

Rubio said, “It’s a law designed to help the people who help us.” Ossoff said that the bipartisan effort is aimed at helping the “heroes in our communities” to afford housing in the same places they serve.

A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Reps. Al Lawson (D-FL), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), John Rutherford (R-FL), and John Katko (R-NY).

Rubio added that the new bill will provide home financing options that public servants otherwise might not have available. Like Ossoff, he said that the Senate wanted to offer opportunities for first responders to live in the same cities they serve.

The HELPER Act would cover police officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, and K-12 teachers who worked in their roles four years or longer. It is designed to create a new home loan assistance program that eliminates mortgage down payment and mortgage insurance premium (MIP) requirements for first mortgage residential financing.

United States Capitol Police Labor Committee chairman Gus Papathanasiou said that it is currently “incredibly difficult to recruit” new people to careers in law enforcement.” His committee is a public labor union supporting Capitol Police officers.

He said that the USCP will have to hire 500 new officers in the next five years simply to replace retiring officers. He said the agency will need 800 more new hires to meet the “new threat environment” the department faces. Papathanasiou added that the HELPER Act will be important as a way to help officers take part in the American dream of homeownership.

According to Redfin, the median sale price of a home in D.C. stands at $705,000, a 9% increase over a year ago.