Baldwin, Rounds, Tester, Capito and Roberts Introduce Reform to Provide Affordable Housing for Volunteer Firefighters and First Responders
U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide affordable housing opportunities for volunteer firefighters and first responders in order to help recruit and retain more volunteers, particularly in rural and under-served communities.
This legislation makes it possible for more volunteer emergency responders to participate in the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. This existing program assists approved lenders in providing loans to low- and moderate- income households to build, rehabilitate or improve a home in eligible rural areas. The bill will allow volunteers to participate in the loan program even if their income exceeds the maximum allowable income level by up to $18,000.
It also makes volunteer emergency responders eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program. This existing program gives law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians a 50 percent discount from the list price of a home located in a revitalization area.
The Volunteer First Responder Housing Act is supported by National Volunteer Fire Council, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Housing Assistance Council, National Rural Housing Coalition, National Association of Towns and Townships, National Association of Counties, Wisconsin State Firefighters Association, Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association, Wisconsin Counties Association and Wisconsin Towns Association.
“Senator Baldwin’s collaborative and bipartisan effort to develop the Volunteer First Responder Housing Act is a critical step toward incentivizing and rewarding the fire and EMS volunteers that quietly protect and serve millions of Wisconsinites,” stated Mike Koles, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Towns Association. “In addition to putting out fires and saving lives during accidents and medical emergencies, increasingly Wisconsin’s volunteers have provided exemplary leadership in responding to natural disasters. Yet, these heroes are retiring and not adequately being replaced with new volunteers. Affordable housing opportunities, such as created in this Act, are an essential tool in providing safe and vibrant communities throughout the Badger state.”
More information on the Volunteer First Responder Housing Act is available here.