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Pilot Program Could Help SDPD Officers Buy Homes In San Diego

The San Diego Police Department headquarters is shown in this updated photo.

Credit: Milan Kovacevic

Above: The San Diego Police Department headquarters is shown in this updated photo.

A proposed pilot program in San Diego aims to help police officers afford homes within the city, as high housing costs take a toll on the department's recruitment and retention efforts.

City Councilman Chris Cate is asking for $250,000 to start the program, which is being considered as part of the city’s fiscal year 2020 budget. The program would offer down payment assistance to officers who commit to working in the San Diego Police Department for five years.

Cate said San Diego's high housing costs have forced many officers to commute from neighboring cities, making them feel less connected to the communities they serve.

“When you have the median home price in San Diego hovering around $600,000 dollars right now, it becomes very unaffordable for officers to purchase a home,” Cate said. “We need to look at ways in which we can incentivize officers to live in the neighborhoods that they are patrolling.”

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Fewer than 30% of SDPD officers live in the city of San Diego, Cate said.

In addition to the five-year commitment to working for SDPD, officers would also have to prove the home they are purchasing is within city limits, and that it will be their primary residence. Applications would be handled by a local nonprofit, Cate said, and officers would have to participate in mortgage counseling so they understand all their options.

The amount of assistance for officers would vary depending on how much money the city can attract from private partners.

“We are not looking to help people buying $1 million homes,” Cate said.

City Council members are scheduled to discuss the program in a hearing on the mayor's revised budget proposal Friday.

A proposed pilot program in San Diego aims to help police officers afford homes within the city, as high housing costs take a toll on the department's recruitment and retention efforts.

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