February 29, 2024
Loans

Lathrop working on $10K housing loans for police, firefighters


Lathrop has a plan to retain police officers and reduce callback times of off-duty firefighters needed when major fires occur.

It’s a housing assistance program for front-line first responders.

How it would work is simple.

Qualified personnel — sworn full-time frontline first responders such as police officers and firefighters — would be eligible for a zero interest 10-year loan that is forgettable after 10 years to help with the downpayment on a primary residence within the Lathrop city limits.

In exchange, Lathrop would be able to better retain personnel they have invested heavily in recruiting and training.

A reduction in training and recruiting costs — as well as overtime to cover a vacant position that often occurs when a position goes vacant and forces a long and exhaustive screening and recruitment process — would likely be a byproduct of such a program.

Staffing stability via police officers and firefighters living in Lathrop also assures the city of first responders with a deeper day-to-day working knowledge of the community they serve.

The South County — Tracy, Ripon, Manteca, and Lathrop — has a high concentration of Bay Area police officers residing here due to the high cost of living in the communities they serve.

Bay Area cities tend to pay significantly more than Northern San Joaquin Valley jurisdictions

Lathrop can be just as unaffordable for its officers and firefighters to secure housing.

The median average of resale homes closing escrow in Lathrop last year was more than $600,000.

As a result first offenders often reside out of town. Typically, the farther south one goes, the less expensive the housing costs are.

The primary source of the funding could be the Measure C one cent sales tax, providing the oversight committee concurs with the council’s plan.

The loan would be structured in such a manner that every 12 months, a tenth of it is forgiven.

The first responder needs to stay employed with the city or stationed at the Lathrop Manteca Fire Department stations within the city the entire 10-year period for the loan to be fully forgiven,

Should they leave city or fire department employment in the 10-year period or move out of Lathrop, the balance of the loan becomes due.

While the potential cost savings alone could justify the loans, Lathrop city staff noted a police force and fire department with lower turnover tends to be much more effective at serving communities.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com



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