County Considers Handing Out Foreclosures to Its Police Officers

Commissioner sees it as a tool to resolve the housing crisis while retaining cops.

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A county in Georgia is considering an unconventional approach to tackling the housing crisis while at the same time boosting retention in its police force: handing out foreclosed homes to cops.

The idea comes from Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

For $2,500 down, a promise to stay with the same police department for at least 15 years and an agreement to pay taxes, utilities and upkeep, an officer could get a foreclosed house without any other payments. The lender, in return, would get the public's "good will for doing this," and possibly a credit on Fulton County taxes . . .

The $2,500 down payment would go to "the entity that would set up to manage the program," Pitts said. "After 15 years, they [the police officers] will be given the deed to the house" if they are still working for the same agency.

Pitts says he wants to launch a pilot program that does this in Fulton County. He hopes to pitch the idea to other city and state officials and might even try to get the feds on board.

Not surprisingly, Fulton County police are quite receptive. "It's a win because the police officer is able to get a house with very little money down," Lt. Darrell Halbert told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's a win for the community because the community has an officer as a neighbor, and that will help in terms of being a deterrent to crime."

Having just seen Lakeview Terrace—I was on an airplane—I have to quibble with this last point. But from the cop's perspective, a cheap house is a cheap house.

Area lenders, however, are less than thrilled. "I don't know if lenders would be willing to do that," Liberty Mortgage's Merry Coalson, president of the Atlanta Association of Mortgage Bankers, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.