Montgomery County is helping its employees buy homes inside the county.
County Executive and County Council President Mike Knapp announced Monday the county's participation in Maryland's House Keys 4 Employees program (call 800-638-7781).
"This program will further two of the goals that are closest to my heart: providing affordable housing opportunities and enabling our county workforce to be more effective and efficient by living closer to work."
About 40 percent of county employees live outside the county. Many Montgomery County firefighters and paramedics who own homes in Maryland live in Frederick County or Washington County. Some live as far away as Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The program allows county employees who receive down payment or closing cost assistance through the county's closing cost assistance loan program to receive a matching contribution of up to $5,000 -- an interest-free loan repaid at the time of payoff, refinancing, or the sale or transfer of the home. Administered by the Housing Opportunities Commission, the closing cost assistance loan program provides loans up to $10,000 to first-time homebuyers in Montgomery County.
A county subsidy allowed, Carmer Berrios, a legislative assistant to Knapp, to buy a house in Knapp's district.
"Montgomery County is one of the most expensive counties in Maryland," Berrios said. "As an employee, when looking at commute times and gas prices, a host of issues you look at when buying a house, it was really just best for me to stay within the county."