Friday, April 18, 2014

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First five grads chosen to 'LiveNF'

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Buffalo: First five grads chosen to 'LiveNF'
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It's been 10 months since officials made headlines, announcing a housing incentive program meant to pay back student loans and bring young professionals into the City of Niagara Falls. Now the first candidates are ready to move in. YNN's Meg Rossman has more from one of the city's newest residents.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — It may be the most expensive property in Monopoly, but Bobbie Thoman is headed for Park Place in Niagara Falls for quite a steal.

"I'm super excited about it,” Thoman said. “I've been looking forward to it."

The University at Buffalo graduate and four other "urban pioneers" are the first residents to be chosen for the city's LiveNF initiative: a program designed to bring young professionals into the city in exchange for more than $6,000 in student loan reimbursements.

"They've already gone through their credit check, their criminal background check, and they're ready to be a part of this community," Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo explained. "We're looking for people that wanted to make an investment of their time and efforts in Niagara Falls."

Thoman's application was one of 42 an independent review panel received last fall to fill 20 spots in the program – many of them from out of state.

"Student loans are very serious things, so any help graduates can get towards their student loans, I think they're going to take advantage of that," Tom Lowe, of ReNu Niagara said.

But not without giving something in return. Residents are expected to live within the downtown corridor for at least two years and contribute to revitalizing the city.

It's an exciting prospect for Thoman.

"I'd like to stay in the area, I think it's a really great area,” Thoman said. “That's what I'm looking forward to the most about this program, being able to rebuild the area and bring it all back."

Thoman and others are set to move in later this spring. Applications for the remaining 15 spots are still being accepted.

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