Firms Offer $10,000 Grants To Own Homes In Hartford
By JENNA CARLESSO
May 31, 2012
HARTFORD — — Owning her own home has been a goal for Tahara Chapman, a lifelong city resident.
Chapman, who resides with family members on Sharon Street, received the extra push she needed recently when she was approved for a $10,000 grant from Aetna, her employer. The grant is part of a new home-ownership incentive program launched by MetroHartford Alliance.
Chapman said she's now looking at homes in the Asylum Hill and Frog Hollow neighborhoods.
"I'm excited," she said Wednesday. "It's something I've been thinking about for a while. Sometimes when things happen like that it's meant for you to just give it a go."
MetroHartford created the program as part of its LiveHartford Initiative, which promotes city living by offering tours of available homes and apartments and provides information about renting or purchasing a home.
Julio Concepcion, the Hartford partnership vice president at MetroHartford Alliance, said the project had been in the works for years. The idea was first raised about three years ago, he said, but the lackluster economy posed challenges.
The program is modeled after similar ones offered by Yale University and MassMutual Financial Group, Concepcion said.
"It's a great opportunity for people to start moving back into the city," he said. "It benefits the companies to have their employees live close to work, and there's a lot for people to do here. It's the entertainment capital."
So far, five city corporations have signed on: Aetna, Hartford Hospital, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Connecticut Children's Medical Center and Trinity College. Each is offering five $10,000 grants to eligible employees to encourage them to live in the city. The grants are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Employees chosen for the grants must live in the home for five years and remain with their employer for the same amount of time, Concepcion said. Grant recipients may use the money to purchase single, two- or three-family homes or condominiums. The $10,000 is awarded to each employee at the time of closing on a property.
Each company may have its own set of requirements for the grant. At Aetna, for example, applicants must be employed with the company for at least a year and have a strong performance record.
Aetna began accepting applications for the grants in March. The company has only chosen one recipient so far, but is reviewing other applications, said Mike Marshall, Aetna's head of asset management.
The other corporations are expected to begin their programs soon.
Encouraging people to live in the area makes the neighborhood a more desirable place to live and work, Marshall said.
He said it's too soon to determine if they'll expand the number of grants offered or the increase amount awarded to employees in future years.
"All the feedback we've received has been very positive, and it's one of those programs that are mutually beneficial to Aetna and the employee," he added.
Concepcion said he hopes more city businesses — small, mid-size and large corporations — participate in the future.
Companies that participate may offer grants of any amount, he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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