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Help with housing

Loan program would aid county workers

Loan program would aid county workers

April 05, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Washington County's human resources director asked the County Commissioners on Tuesday to support a program that would help county employees with down payment or closing costs toward a home.

Human Resources Director David Hankinson said providing homeownership assistance might help attract and keep employees, something the county has been having trouble doing.

Under the House Keys 4 Employees Program, county employees could, for example, apply for a no-interest $5,000 state loan, receive a $5,000 loan from the county, and then apply for up to a $5,000 no-interest House Keys 4 Employees loan.

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To start the program, Hankinson asked the commissioners to allocate $25,000 in fiscal year 2007, which begins July 1. The money would allow five employees to receive assistance from the county.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop said Hankinson frequently asks the commissioners to fill open positions. Hankinson said it's not unusual for county employees to leave their jobs for higher pay and equal or better benefits elsewhere.

The commissioners did not vote on the program nor show support or opposition.

Shoop said the program would promote homeownership in the county and might encourage area businesses to offer something similar for their employees.

He said the program would help with the county's affordable housing problem.

Maryland is the sixth-most expensive state in the country in rent prices, Hankinson said.

Hankinson also asked the commissioners to budget 4.5 percent merit raises for employees, saying the cost of living in the county has gone up 4 percent since last year.

"I'm a believer in merit pay," Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said.

"This is an incentive for employees to work hard, to try to do a good job ..." Nipps said.

The county had 966 employees in 2005. Of that number, 659 were full time and 307 were part time. The county had 912 employees in 2004.




How it works



The Maryland House Keys 4 Employees Program helps homebuyers with down payment and closing costs by offering no-interest deferred loans of up to $5,000.

If Washington County participates in the program, county employees could receive up to $15,000 in deferred loans toward down payment and closing costs.

For example, to receive the maximum assistance, an employee would have to:

Apply and receive a no-interest deferred state loan of $5,000 through the Downpayment and Settlement Expense Loan Program.

Receive the county loan of $5,000.

Receive the $5,000 House Keys 4 Employees matching no-interest loan.

More information is available at www.morehouse4less.com.

Source: Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development

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