Reps Watson Coleman, Rutherford Reintroduce Bipartisan Bicameral HELPER Act
Bill Would Make it Easier for Teachers and First Responders to Purchase Their First Home
Yesterday, Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and John Rutherford (FL-05) reintroduced H.R. 3170, the Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator, and Responder (HELPER) Act. The bipartisan and bicameral HELPER Act establishes a new home loan program under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to make homeownership more accessible to teachers and first responders by eliminating some of the barriers for first-time homebuyers, like a down payment and monthly mortgage insurance premiums. Senators Jon Ossoff, Sherrod Brown, and Marco Rubio are leading companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
First responders and educators, like many other Americans, have faced financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rising cost of real estate. The HELPER Act aims to make homeownership more accessible to these public servants who have dedicated their careers to serving their communities.
"The nation continues to lean on the sacrifices and bravery of everyday, hardworking Americans - first responders, nurses, America's educators, and other public-sector employees - it's time for us to recognize their needs and create opportunities for them to own homes," said Congresswoman Watson Coleman. "It's time we eliminated the barriers that make it so difficult for our teachers and frontline workers to secure housing, and the HELPER Act does just that."
"Many of our nation's first responders and educators face financial obstacles when trying to buy a home in today's competitive housing market, often making it difficult for them to live in the community they serve. The HELPER Act makes homeownership a reality for teachers, paramedics, EMTs, law enforcement officers, and firefighters," said Congressman Rutherford. "Modeled after the successful VA home loan program, the HELPER Act eliminates requirements for a down payment and a monthly mortgage insurance premium, removing some of the barriers preventing first responders and educators from purchasing a home."
“I’m working across the aisle to support Georgia’s teachers, first responders, and law enforcement officers by making homeownership more affordable for public servants who teach our kids and protect our families,” said Sen. Ossoff.
“Homeownership is a cornerstone of the American Dream. Our public servants’ ability to reside in the neighborhoods they serve is crucial to the strength and resilience of our communities. As already high housing prices continue to rise, the HELPER Act would ensure that our teachers and first responders can own a home in the communities they dutifully serve,” Senator Rubio said.
“Our teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, and first responders protect and serve our communities. Yet I hear from officers and educators in Ohio that too often they can’t find an affordable place to live in the city or county where they work,” said Senator Brown, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. “When we make housing more affordable for teachers and first responders, we improve recruitment for these crucial jobs, and we give more Ohio families a shot at the middle class.”
The HELPER Act:
- Creates a one-time-use home loan program through FHA for law enforcement officers, firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), paramedics, and pre-K through 12 teachers who are first-time homebuyers;
- Eliminates a down payment requirement on a mortgage;
- Removes a monthly mortgage insurance premium (MIP) requirement;
- Requires an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) to ensure the solvency of the program.
The HELPER Act has also received support from the following organizations: American Association of State Troopers (AAST), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), International Association of EMTs and Paramedics (IAEP), Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA), National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), National Troopers Coalition (NTC), and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) among others.