BUSINESS
10/21/2011 06:12 pm ET Updated Dec 21, 2011

Atlanta Incentive For Police Officers, Fire Fighters: Latest Effort To Fill Foreclosed Homes

The foreclosure crisis has left scores of U.S. homes vacant. As a result, state and federal government officials are rushing to come up with ways to fill them back up -- before some take the task upon themselves.

In an effort to re-populate homes emptied by foreclosure, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has announced that he's been in negotiations with "one of the largest banks in America" to provide the city's police officers and firefighters with reduced rates on foreclosed homes, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (h/t The Consumerist).

Supporters reportedly claim the initiative is especially attractive because it brings city employees back within Atlanta's limits. The program could hit a broad swath of neighborhoods, proving beneficial since foreclosures in Atlanta have been so widespread, Reed says.

Atlanta isn't the only city to find creative ways to fill foreclosed homes. Last February, Detroit began its Project 14 initiative which offered 200 police officers homes in Detroit for as little as $1,000, CNNMoney reports. While there's been no shortage of inquiries, the program hasn't been a resounding success; it wasn't until August that the initiative found its first succes story, according to CBS Detroit.

Federal officials have also made efforts to re-populate foreclosed homes. In August, the Obama administration was reportedly in talks with investors to turn thousands of government-owned foreclosures into rental properties.

In addition, two Senators introduced a bill earlier this week offering foreigners U.S. residency visas pending a $500,000 or more investment in the American real estate market. The effort aims to revitialize the housing industry by building on increased foreign interest in U.S. homes, the prices of which have dropped by 32 percent since the peak of the housing boom five years ago.

But it's not only state and federal governments that are itching to fill up so many empty homes. New York Times reports that foreclosed homes in Jamaica, Queens are increasingly becoming hotbeds for criminal activity. Those foreclosed homes have filled up with "drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, gang members, squatters and copper thieves," NYT reporter Michael Wilson writes.

"They hang out in these abandoned homes that may be foreclosed, or the owners walked away," Deputy Inspector Miltiadis Marmara of the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica, told the NYT. "Every day we respond to something to that effect."