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Politics / Issues

First Responders And Teachers Would Get Mortgage Relief Under Bill Introduced By Rubio

Rep. John Rutherford and Sen. Marco Rubio tout the HELPER Act at JFRD Station 50.
Rep. John Rutherford and Sen. Marco Rubio tout the HELPER Act at JFRD Station 50.

Congressional Republicans, Rep. John Rutherford, FL-4, and Sen. Marco Rubio joined together Tuesday to tout legislation that aims to help teachers and first responders become homeowners.

The pair announced the HELPER Act at Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Station 50, alongside Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

The Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator, and Responder Act of 2021 would create a mortgage program eliminating monthly mortgage insurance premiums for qualifying teachers and first responders, no down payment required. 

The legislation applies to primary residences. 

The mortgage program is modeled after homeowner assistance that’s available to military members and veterans, but can only be used a single time.

“We needed a program that would allow first responders  — our police, fire, our paramedics, our nurses, and our educators —  to be able to move into a home… and really make that home ownership available to them,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford introduced the bill back in May and has 24 co-sponsors in the House, mostly Democrats.

Rubio intends to introduce the Senate version of the bill on Monday, and he expects it will have broad bipartisan support. 

“One of the biggest challenges we are now facing is the cost of housing,” Rubio said. ”There are counties in this state in which the people who serve that community, in the fire departments and the police departments, as EMTs, as teachers, can't live in the county.”

According to the senator, the legislation shouldn’t be seen as charity, but as a necessary move to entice potential first responders and teachers to those fields.

“The cost of housing has skyrocketed, and I don't need to tell anybody in this room. That the salaries of our firefighters, our teachers, our nurses, our police officers, our sheriff's deputies have not skyrocketed,” Rubio said.

Williams thanked the congressmen for introducing the legislation, and invoked the upcoming 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as an example of the sacrifice first responders are willing to make.

“Our first responders serve everyone every day,” Williams said. “And this program will serve them back, so we obviously urge everyone to support it.”
 
Raymon Troncoso can be reached at rtroncoso@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RayTroncoso.

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