NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In a first-of-its-kind initiative, New York City’s pension fund will help support efforts to make housing more affordable in the five boroughs.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, the city is pouring nearly half a billion dollars of pension fund money into backing 30-year mortgages for affordable housing.

“We need to be able to create housing programs that keep the people in the communities who built up our neighborhoods,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer said Thursday.

The pension fund money, which will still be earning between four and five percent, is intended to give the mortgages more attractive terms.

“We are not throwing money at people. There is a rigorous financial qualification, and we monitor this as a serious investment in terms of the overall asset allocation of the pension fund,” Stringer said.

The comptroller made a special note, saying part of the money is being set aside to help returning veterans get mortgages to buy affordable housing.