Do You Qualify For Florida's New Downpayment Assistance Program?

Governor DeSantis just signed the 2022-2023 state budget into law, including $100 million for the Hometown Heroes Housing Program. The Hometown Heroes Program was created to help eligible frontline workers to live in the communities where they work. The program provides down payment and closing cost assistance of up to $25,000 to first-time, income-qualified homebuyers to purchase a home in the community where they work and serve. We’ve seen programs like this in the past for law enforcement and healthcare workers, but what’s unique about this program is it's expanded to over 50 professions.

With the pandemic, labor shortages, inflation, and increased housing costs, we’re in the midst of some challenging times. Despite the challenges, Florida’s frontline workers continue to show up for their communities. But for many of these individuals, the American Dream of homeownership is just out of reach, with many being forced to live outside of the communities they serve in areas that are more affordable.

So for this reason, lawmakers budgeted $100 million for the Hometown Heroes Housing Program. The program aims to bridge the financial gap and allow eligible workers the ability to purchase a home. The zero-interest loan program will provide up to $25,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, which will ride as a silent second mortgage.

Eligible community workers will need to have a credit score of at least 640 and earn less than 150% of their area median income. In Volusia County, the income limit is $118,950. There’s also a 45% debt to income ratio requirement but that can vary depending on credit score and loan type. A lender can dive into those specifics with you. 

The program is for first-time homebuyers, unless you’re active military or a veteran, but what many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to be purchasing your first home to be considered a first-time home buyer. If you haven’t owned a home in three or more years, you’re considered a first-time home buyer under this program- and many others for that matter.

As far as eligible occupations, as I mentioned, the list is far more extensive than programs for frontline workers in the past. Here’s a list of some of the eligibility professions for the Hometown Heroes program. It includes healthcare workers including everything from physicians and dentists to home health aides, dental hygienist, and massage therapists, to law enforcement, correctional officers, emergency response workers, teachers, child care workers, social workers, marriage counselors, family therapists, veterinarians, vet techs, and so many others. The program is also available to active military and veterans.

If you or someone you know is interested in this program, don’t wait to reach out to a lender. The funds are limited to $100 million and once they’re gone, they’re gone, so reach out to your lender to see if you qualify. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may also qualify for the Florida Assist program or the Florida Bond program, which also provides downpayment assistance for first-time buyers.  If you need a recommendation for a local lender who offers this program, please let us know. We’ll be happy to connect you with someone.

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