La. first responders offered mortgage savings


By Leslie Williams
Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
Copyright 2007 The Times-Picayune Publishing Company  

NEW ORLEANS — Police officers, firefighters and other first responders in Louisiana can get below-market financing to buy homes through a program designed, in part, to keep them from leaving the state.

The Louisiana Housing Finance Agency's First Responders Program is offering a mortgage interest rate of 5.5 percent.

"That's a savings of more than $19,000 over the life of a 30-year, $150,000 loan," said David Gilyot, president of the mortgage division at Liberty Bank, one of the lending institutions participating in the program.

The current market rate is about 6.12 percent, he said.

The First Responders Program is scheduled to end June 5.

Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, nurses and certified nurse assistants must reside in one of the many parishes affected by Hurricanes Rita or Katrina.

"Louisiana's first responders have made tremendous sacrifices in helping to restore our communities," said Wayne Woods, chairman of the agency's governing board.

The below-market rate could keep first responders from being lured away by other cities, said Morris Duffin, an agency program administrator.

Police officers and firefighters must work for local or state government. Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses as well as certified nurse assistants must be employed by a hospital.

Police officers, firefighters and others who wish to participate in the program should call (800) 373-7964 or (225) 763-8688 to get more information about the program and a list of participating lenders, Duffin said.

Once a police officer, firefighter or nurse has identified a participating lender, he or she can simply walk into the institution and ask to participate in the First Responders Program, Duffin said.

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