Workers in more than 50 occupations deemed essential to the state of Florida can now get help with the down payment on their first home under a program announced by Governor Ron DeSantis.
The Hometown Heroes housing program launched June 1 and is available to a variety of public safety, healthcare, and education professionals as well as military personnel and veterans.
In addition to this $100 million program, DeSantis also announced support for the nearly $363 million appropriated by the state legislature for affordable housing and labor in the 2022-23 budget. which officials say is the highest total in 15 years.
“In Florida, we appreciate the contributions of our police officers, firefighters, teachers and nurses,” said DeSantis. “Our local heroes are the backbone of Florida communities and making sure they can afford to be homeowners is a great way to give back to them and support the future of the American Dream.”
Eligible occupations include:
• Veterans, active duty military and surviving spouses
• Sworn law enforcement officers
• Daycare operators and daycare monitors
• Public safety personnel, including paramedics, EMTs, 911 operators and firefighters
• Healthcare professionals, including RNs, LPNs, CNAs, and home health aides
• Correctional officers, probation officers, juvenile detention officers and juvenile probation officers
Sworn law enforcement officers, veterans, active-duty military and surviving spouses do not need to be first-time homebuyers to participate.
The program is administered by the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation and offers “the highest and most inclusive eligibility of any Florida Housing down payment assistance program,” DeSantis said, adding that the program will expand Florida’s existing housing programs to reach frontline workers and those who have served their country.
The programs will make a difference for many, the governor said.
“We will continue to be strong for those who support us”, said DeSantis. “I’m really excited about this program. I think this is going to make a difference for Sheriff’s (Carmine) Marceno’s deputies, for police officers here in Cape Coral and across the state of Florida, so I’m going to thank the Legislature for stepping up on this and I’m excited in to be a part of. »
Florida Housing received $100 million to establish and administer the program that will allow applicants to set aside funds beginning June 1, which marked the start of National Homeownership Month. The funds will be available for distribution beginning July 1, the start of Florida’s fiscal year.
To be eligible for the program, homebuyers will need to go through a participating loan officer, have a minimum credit score of 640, provide certification for one of the eligible occupations, and meet their county’s income threshold.
Eligible borrowers will receive up to 5% of the amount of the first mortgage up to a maximum of $25,000 as a down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a 0% deferred second mortgage, with no amortization and on 30 years.
A young veteran who returned home to Cape Coral to start a career in law enforcement and teaching with more than 20 years of service each shared the importance of these types of programs, especially in a housing market rising.
“Recently I started looking to buy a house. With the help of my real estate agent and my loan officer, there was so much I didn’t know and they were able to help and guide me », said Cape Coral Police Department Constable Ashton Wolfe. “I joined the army when I was 18. I was stationed in Washington, and when I left the military, I came back to Cape Coral to serve my community as a police officer. The Salute Our Soldiers program, which becomes the Hometown Heroes program, allowed me to buy a house when I was 23 and I’m the only 23-year-old man I know who buys a house, so he did great things for me.”
Melba Lugo, a second-year teacher at Mid Cape Global Academy, said housing support had literally made her dream come true.
“I was a teacher for 25 years” she says. “In one day, I changed cities, changed jobs and bought a house. Thank you for this program and I want to thank all those people who made this possible. Owning a house seemed like such a distant dream, so far away. I’m 63 and at that age you’re supposed to pay off your mortgage, but all is well and good when you’re walking in God’s time.
Speakers also included Trey Price, executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
“Florida Housing is extremely grateful to those who have remained committed to serving their communities, especially during these difficult financial times,” The price said. “Hometown Heroes will provide the financial assistance needed to help these hard-working people finally achieve the American dream of homeownership, and we look forward to the positive impacts this achievement will have on so many Florida families.”
For more information about the program, visit https://www.floridahousing.org/programs/homebuyer-overview-page/hometown-heroes.