FLAGSTAFF, AZ — A city program meant to help police officers buy a home in Flagstaff has been expanded to all city departments.
The Flagstaff Police Department Employer Assisted Housing Program was broadened to all full-time employees who have worked for the city at least one year.
The program, which was originally approved by City Council in 2015, was created to help police officers make initial payments on a first-time home in Flagstaff.
Flagstaff City Council approved an additional $100,000 for non-police department employees along with $95,000 left for police officers. Both funds are budgeted separately and the programs are not guaranteed to be renewed past their initial funding.
Flagstaff Housing and Grants Administrator Leah Bloom said the housing program was expanded after strong participation from law enforcement officers.
“Council decided to put more money aside for all of our employees after the success of our police program,” Bloom said. “Programs like this are becoming popular nationwide and it shows we are willing to invest in our employees.”
Nine police officers have participated in the city program, but have used less than $5,000 out of $100,000 allocated for the program.
Flagstaff Police Spokesman Cory Runge said, “the police department is very happy with the housing assistance program and considers it a success.”
The housing program helps employees pay for housing by matching up to $10,000 on the down payment of a home.
The employees would then have $1,000 of that matched payment forgiven ever year they work for the city. For example, if the city matched $3,000 of an employee’s down payment, that person would have to work with the city for three years in order to avoid paying some or all of that money back.
Flagstaff Housing Manager Justyna Costa said the city forgives the matching amount in increments to ensure that both parties are investing in each other.
“This is not a handout,” Costa said. “It is an investment for the employer as well as the city. We are helping our employees afford their first home, which helps us with long-term employment. If someone gets a great job in the Valley one year after they used our program, then they would have to pay us back.”
Money is allocated to eligible employees on a first-come, first-served basis and employee interest has increased, according to Costa.
“There is a lot of interest in this program from the rest of our employees,” Costa said. “There is even some concern that this won’t be enough money, but that all depends on how many employees are ready to buy a home.”
City employees interested in the program can call the housing department at 213-2750 or Housing Solutions of Northern Arizona at 214-7456. Credit checks for eligibility are conducted by HSNA and not the city.