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Police May Get Grants To Buy Inner-City Homes

President Clinton will unveil a pioneering effort Monday to encourage police officers to buy homes in inner-city neighborhoods to bolster round-the-clock security in urban areas.

The initiative was outlined to Hearst Newspapers Saturday by Mickey Ibarra, the senior presidential adviser coordinating White House ties with state and local governments.

Clinton will announce the proposal in a speech to more than 300 members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors holding their annual convention this year in San Francisco.

Ibarra said the president will offer federal housing grants to big-city police as part of a new battle plan to combat stubborn ills that afflict urban areas despite the nation’s economic boom now going into its seventh year.

Clinton, who wraps up a three-day summit with seven other world leaders here today, will fly to San Francisco this evening.

Ibarra said the pilot program of federal grants being announced by Clinton potentially could provide millions of dollars to thousands of urban police officers to help them buy homes in inner cities.

A second Clinton administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said federal housing grants have never before been offered to police officers.

“This is the first time that this has been done,” the senior official said in a telephone interview. “The effort will help cities gain greater security because a police officer is a police officer 24 hours a day.”

The official said federal grants may help police officers fulfill requirements that many urban jurisdictions have tried to impose, requiring officers to live within the cities they police.

“Mayors have gone to great lengths to keep police in their cities,” the senior official said. “This takes that effort to the next level.”

Clinton also will announce a plan to reduce the amount of financing that borrowers would have to pay to get Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages for homes in inner cities.

The plan seeks to make home ownership more affordable for low- and middle-income families, the senior official said, adding: “We think the reduction will be a significant amount of money for families that are looking for affordable housing.”

Ibarra, the White House official, noted that last year the nation saw the steepest decline in violent crime in 35 years.

But he added that persuading police officers to live in the nation’s inner cities could help combat the crime that persists.

“The goal is to make housing available at a significant reduction in cost to police officers who choose to live in the city.”