More than two-thirds of San Diego police officers don't live in the city of San Diego, according to the San Diego Police Officers’ Association (SDPOA). Some are choosing to commute from as far as Riverside County because they say it's just too expensive to buy a home in San Diego.
But a proposed new program is trying to change that. Along with SDPOA, San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate has proposed a down payment assistance program.
SDPOA argues if officers live in the communities they serve, they'll be more connected to the area, and be more invested if their kids go to school here.
After Jack Schaeffer, SDPOA President, became a San Diego police officer in 1989, he bought his first house.
“It was just over a $100,000 for a townhome, unheard of these days. The down payment was ten percent of that so $10,000,” said Schaeffer.
But for new officers making around $50,000 a year -- or any San Diego police officer -- buying a home is tough.
“It's really difficult, I don’t know how this generation gets into the housing market,” said Schaeffer.
According to Zillow.com San Diego's median home price is just over $590,000.
Schaeffer says more than two-thirds of SDPD officers live somewhere else.
“Some commute as far as Murrieta, Riverside County, Hemet, and Jamul,” said Cate.
The new assistance program would be public and privately funded, with $250,000 from the city, to help officers put down payments on homes.
“We're not talking about giving assistance to folks who are buying million-dollar homes in La Jolla,” said Cate.
The goal is to help officers plant roots in various neighborhoods.
“If there's a success and we're able to help twenty officers, maybe more, that would be great,” said Cate.
Part of this program would include housing counseling for police officers, and if an officer received money from this fund, they'd have to agree to be an officer for at least five years.
"Being a homeowner is still one of the American Dreams, so I think that if any way that we can help them be able to plant those roots in San Diego, we should look into that," said Shaeffer.
This issue would be part of the overall budget vote scheduled for June 10.