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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release September 4, 1998

                   Also Announces Support for Program 
            from the Mortgage Bankers Association of America

Washington DC -- Vice President Gore announced today that the "Officer Next Door" program, now enabling 2,000 law enforcement officers to buy homes at half-price in distressed neighborhoods, will expand to serve 1,000 more officers and cut mortgage costs by up to several thousand dollars per officer.

He also announced that the program -- designed to revitalize neighborhoods by encouraging police officers to live in them -- has won support from 10 law enforcement groups with a total membership of over 500,000 officers.

"Good neighbors help create good neighborhoods," the Vice President said at a White House ceremony marking the 2,000th officer's participation in the year-old initiative, where he was joined by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Andrew Cuomo. "When police officers move into an area, criminals want to move out and families want to move in. The presence of officers can plant the seeds of revitalization to transform struggling communities into thriving neighborhoods, attracting new businesses and jobs."

Cuomo added, "Police officers, who put their lives on the line every day safeguarding the American Dream, should have the ability to live it themselves. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have led the way in working with law enforcement officers across this nation to dramatically reduce crime. Now we are working with them to bring new opportunity, growth, and prosperity to communities through the Officer Next Door program."

Under the program, HUD sells homes it has acquired through foreclosure on defaulted mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) at half off the FHA-listed price. Each participating officer signs a contract agreeing to live in the home at least three years. Those who receive an FHA-insured mortgage can buy homes with a down payment of as little as $100.

Working with local elected officials, HUD designates neighborhoods as revitalization areas -- of which there are now over 500 -- for participation. The neighborhoods are typically in low- and moderate-income areas, have many vacant properties, and often have high crime rates, but are considered good candidates for economic development and improvement.

The Vice President also announced that the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA) will urge its nearly 3,000 member lenders to give law enforcement officers moving into eligible neighborhoods a choice of mortgage discounts: either a half-point cut in closing costs (an immediate $500 savings on a typical $100,000 mortgage), or a one-eighth-point cut in interest rates over the life of the mortgage (a $3,000 savings over 30 years on a $100,000 mortgage). MBA President Marc Smith said that 50 lenders have already agreed to provide the mortgage savings to officers, and several hundred are expected to offer the incentive starting in October.

The following law enforcement groups announced their support of the Officer Next Door program today: National Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Union of Police Associations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Police Executive Research Forum, National Sheriff's Association, National Troopers Coalition, and the Police Foundation.