Niagara Falls’ Plan To Lure Young People With Student Loan Payoffs Is Working Splendidly

Remember how towns in need of a shot of youthful energy were dangling a tasty carrot of student loan payoffs in front of said young people to try and convince them to move there? It seems Niagara Falls’ plan in that vein is doing quite well for itself, with a new report that young people from around the country are “vying for the chance to live in downtown Niagara Falls.”

As the Buffalo News puts it for those unfamiliar with the plan, “No, that’s not a typo.” It’s all part of the city’s scheme to pay off up to $3,500 for two years in student loans for those accepted into the program. More than 200 people from as far away as Hawaii have contacted the city about renting or buying a home in the city since news of the program spread last month.

“The conversation this has started, the attention, we didn’t think we [would get],” said the community development director. “That’s been encouraging, because people are talking about Niagara Falls as a living destination, and obviously are interested in what we are doing.”

While many of those interested are from upstate New York, people from California, Oregon, New York City and other coastal areas are also newly interested in living in Niagara Falls, many because of the offer to find some relief from student loan debt.

And then there are those being dubbed “urban pioneers” — people who really just want to help out the city by building a community.

“More than just the monetary incentive … it would be cool to work at a place where these ideas are actually coming out of City Hall,” said an applicant from San Jose, Calif., who studies urban planning. “It’s a pretty smart way to go about getting new people into a city that has been losing population for four decades.”

Only 20 lucky people will be accepted in the first class of buyers and renters, with preference being given to those interested in community service and who want to buy a home in the city. The city is trying to reinvigorate itself, after the population dipped to 50,000 recently, which could cost it key funding from state and federal governments.

Plan to draw grads to Falls sparks interest [Buffalo News]