Niagara Gazette —
City lawmakers were updated Monday on the Community Development Department's plan to reimburse college graduates and graduate students for their loans in an effort to lure them to Niagara Falls.
The Downtown Housing Incentive Program, now rebranded as Live NF, will offer to pay up to $7,000 - $3,500 a year for two years - worth of student loans for people who move into a designated section of downtown.
Seth Piccirillo, the city's director of community development, said that since creating the program in June his department has spent $210 - though there is a $900 advertising bill upcoming - and that a two to one return on investment has been created.
"We've also applied for a $250,000 grant in addition for mixed-use buildings in a target area," Piccirillo said. "If that's received, we'll be at a three to one return on investment on hard costs."
Piccirillo said the department was also able to use the program to help leverage a federal public safety program that will use data-driven policing support to help the Niagara Falls Police Department target property theft and violent crimes.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D - N.Y., was in the city last week to announce the program.
"Our conversation with Senator Schumer's office started with Live NF and a link between public safety and attracting and keeping residents," Piccirillo said.
Since opening up the application process in September, Piccirillo said his department has received 27 applications for 20 available spots. An independent review panel will choose applicants through a review process that favors Niagara Falls residents and participants looking to buy homes in the designated area, Piccirillo said.
"Home ownership is a goal of this program and my department as a whole," Piccirillo said.
Piccirillo said members of the review board will choose applicants considered most likely to continue to live in Niagara Falls after their participation in the program has ended.