SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - An interest-free loan that's forgiven after five years has done little to entice San Francisco police officers to buy homes in the city.
Since San Francisco began offering the $20,000 loans in 2007 as part of a labor negotiation, only 14 of its police officers have taken advantage of the program.
KCBS' Barbara Taylor Reports:
"It is pretty startling to hear the statistics," said Supervisor Mark Farrell at a hearing this week to review the effectiveness of the loan program.
Three quarters of San Francisco officers reside outside city limits. If disaster strikes, most police officers would have travel from the East Bay, the Peninsula, over the Golden Gate Bridge, or in some cases from as far away as Sacramento.
"I do think that having our police and public safety officials living in the city on a daily basis really does improve our public safety," Farrell said, anxious to find ways to revamp the program so that it would actually work.
San Francisco cannot require any of its employees to reside within city limits.
Only 33 percent of firefighters have addresses in San Francisco. Human resource records indicate one firefighter even commutes from Idaho. And just 24 percent of the deputies in the San Francisco Sheriff's Department live in the city, according to testimony at the hearing.
The subsidies offered to the Police Department are too small to help officers break into San Francisco's notoriously pricey housing market, said Gary Delagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
"As generous as $20,000 is, when you're talking about a $600,000 house, ain't doing it," he said.
No matter that the loans are eventually forgiven for officers who stay on the force, Delagnes said it would take a "truly substantial" amount of money to see even 25 or 30 percent of the force take advantage.
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