On May 9th, the Leon County Commission reviewed a report from the Mount Olive Affordable Housing and Community Development Corporation that detailed a proposal to house a police officer in Frenchtown. Mt. Olive proposed that the County purchase a single-family home located in Frenchtown and sell the home to a law enforcement officer to mitigate crime.
Additionally, Mt. Olive proposed that the County adopt it’s Officer-In-Resident Program to build a better relationship between the neighborhoods and law enforcement. Similar programs exist in the Midwest; however, no such programs exist in Florida.
According to staff, Mt. Olive received a $175,000 loan from the City for the property they’re requesting the County to purchase. The terms of the City’s loan agreement requires that the property be sold to a low-income household; not a local government such as the County. However, it was noted that if the County were to purchase the property, it would violate the terms of Mt. Olive’s loan agreement with the City. Therefore, staff recommended the County accept the report and take no further action.
Mr. Barber, the Executive Director for Mt. Olive, spoke during the meeting and asked the County to consider two alternative options. Mr. Barber explained that most officers would not be eligible for the HUD program the County suggested for the Officer-In-Resident program. Mr. Barber asked the County to make a modification to the program for sworn officers, first responders, teachers and nurses.
The second option Mr. Barber proposed is for the County to allocate $40,000 to the Officer-In-Resident Program to match the $60,000 donated by the City. This would give $100,000 to a first home buyer and can open up future opportunities.
County Commissioner Carolyn Cummings stated, “I like the concept of Officers-In-Resident in our areas that are high crime.” She went on to say that she believes having officers in these high crime areas would be a deterrent. Both Cummings and County Commissioner Nick Maddox thanked Mr. Barber for his selflessness in offering an alternative that would be open to all developers and for his work in the community.
Ms. Cummings made a motion to make an agenda item for the next meeting that would address matching the City’s donation and to explore a similar program constructed by Leon County staff. The motion passed unanimously.