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Marco Rubio, John Rutherford Push for New Home Loan Program for Law Enforcement, Firefighters, Teachers

Two Republicans in the Florida delegation brought back their proposal for “a new home loan assistance program that makes homeownership more accessible to first responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and teachers, by eliminating certain costly barriers like down payments and monthly mortgage insurance premiums.”

In the spring of 2021, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., introduced the “Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator, and Responder (HELPER) Act.” Then U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., who was defeated in 2022, was a co-sponsor.

“America succeeds when we invest in those who serve our communities,” said Rutherford. “This includes our teachers, paramedics, EMTs, law enforcement officers, and firefighters. We’ve already seen the success of the VA home loan program for our service members. The HELPER Act builds on this success to extend a home loan benefit to first responders and educators, offering them loan assistance to purchase a home when it might not otherwise be possible.”

“The HELPER Act will provide a more streamlined home loan program that delivers access to affordable housing for our nation’s first responders and educators,” said Lawson. “Millions of Americans have experienced the hardships of COVID-19, and our frontline workers never wavered in doing what needed to be done during these challenging times. This legislation will assist them in finding affordable housing and eliminating barriers like a down payment requirement and a monthly insurance premium requirement.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Senate companion in October 2021.

“First responders and teachers work tirelessly to serve our communities, and they have faced incredibly difficult circumstances over the past two years,” Rubio said. “As housing prices continue to skyrocket, our bill would help ensure that teachers and first responders can own a home in the communities they dutifully serve.”

Last week, Rubio and Rutherford showcased the bill as they brought it back.

“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 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.”

“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,” Rubio said.

Six Senate Democrats have lined up behind Rubio’s bill as co-sponsors. The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.

Rutherford reeled in nine co-sponsors for his bill which was sent to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-NJ, is the main co-sponsor.


  • Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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