Would You Move To A Shrinking City If It Paid Off Your Loans?
That’s the plan of New York’s Niagra Falls. In the hopes of staunching its population decline and bringing a new generation of engaged youth, the city is accepting applications for urban pioneers willing to move in exchange for a little debt relief.
Niagara Falls is a poster child for population loss. The city had more than 100,000 people in 1950. Now they’re struggling to keep above 50,000, a number which carries more than just symbolic consequences: It’s the cut-off for HUD entitlement funding. “That’s a dollar loss right off the bat,” Niagara Falls director of community development Seth Piccirillo says. It means less money for everything from home repairs to police. But Piccirillo is worried about the private sector, too: “When was the last time an employer said, ‘I want to put 500 jobs in a shrinking city’? It doesn’t happen.”
A solution they came up with, literally on the back of a napkin, is called Live NF. It will reimburse up to $3,492 a year of your student loans for two years—if you move to downtown Niagara Falls. They had 42 applicants, and have just announced their first five winners, who range from an artist from Buffalo to a web designer with a Masters in Bible Studies.