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RISMEDIA, Oct. 27, 2008-The National Association of Realtors(R) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have named Allentown, Pa., an Ambassador City for its Hometown Heroes program, which creates homeownership opportunities for the city’s police officers, firefighters and emergency services personnel.

The Hometown Heroes program was created through a partnership between the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors(R) and the city of Allentown. The program provides need-based financial assistance and home buyer education to Allentown’s public safety work force to help them purchase a principal residence within the city.

“Realtors are community builders and appreciate the crucial role that police, fire and public safety professionals play in keeping our neighborhoods healthy and safe,” said NAR President Dick Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif. “The Hometown Heroes program is an excellent way for Realtors and city leaders to say thank you to Allentown’s local heroes and help make their dreams of homeownership a reality.”

The goal of the Hometown Heroes program is to help attract and retain moderate-income city employees and increase the number of those who actually live in Allentown – currently only one-fourth of the city’s police force resides within the city. The broader goal of the program is to help increase Allentown’s homeownership rate, which is slightly higher than 50%.

Through the Hometown Heroes program, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who qualify would be eligible for mortgage-interest or mortgage insurance buy-downs. Hometown Heroes program managers hope to begin issuing funds in spring 2009.

At an event last week, Realtor Bonnie Boyd, 2008 chair of the NAR Housing Opportunity Advisory Board, joined Dustin Joyce, Council for the New American City, in presenting the Ambassador for Cities plaque to Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and LVAR President Mark Molchany.

NAR and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, through its Council on the New American City, launched the Ambassadors for Cities program in 2003 to encourage cities and local Realtor(R) associations to form partnerships to promote affordable housing and homeownership.

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