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Baldwin, Other Senators Working To Get More Firefighter Housing

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One of the bill's sponsors says it's an effort to get more people involved in local emergency responder units.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was among two Democrats and three Republicans introducing legislation to provide affordable housing opportunities for volunteer firefighters and first responders in order to help recruit and retain more volunteers, particularly in rural and under-served communities.

Baldwin says there's a critical need to get more firefighters, EMT and other first responders in rural areas where 90 percent of departments are staffed in part, or in total, by volunteers...

"...I have heard from all around the state from department chiefs and others that recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters is really challenging right now. Many communities are finding it difficult to meet their staffing needs. Particularly finding it challenging to attract younger volunteers..."

She says the Volunteer First Responder Housing Act would expand eligibility for qualified volunteer first responders to participate in certain federal housing assistance programs and provide a greater incentive for more volunteers to stay and continue to serve their communities...,

"...Sometimes housing is out of reach, price-wise, for people who would like to be volunteers in their community..."

Emergency responders would be eligible for the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. It assists approved lenders in providing loans to low- and moderate- income households to build, rehabilitate or improve a home in eligible rural areas.

It also makes volunteer emergency responders eligible to participate in the Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program. This existing program gives law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians a 50 percent discount from the list price of a home located in a revitalization area.