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New Florida program helps ‘hometown heroes’ buy their first homes, governor says

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the University of Miami Health System Don Soffer Clinical Research Center on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)

To help people buy homes in the communities they serve, a new program will assist “vital” workers among 50 professions with down payment and closing costs, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday.

The program, called the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program, begins June 1. The state’s initiative will cost taxpayers $100 million. There are 1,000 lenders involved in the program to start providing assistance to the working-class essential workers.

To afford a median-priced home, Floridians would need to earn about $62,000 per year on average, according to a realtors association.

“We have worked harder than anybody to support the people in our communities that support us, and so that means the people that wear the uniform,” DeSantis said.

Among the professions that will qualify for aid include:

—Law enforcement officers, correctional officers, probation officers and 911 operators and juvenile detention officers;

—Firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians;

—Teachers and day care instructors;

—Licensed practical nurses and home health aides.

In addition, all military veterans, active duty personnel moving to Florida and the surviving spouses of deceased veterans also will qualify for the assistance, regardless whether they are first-time buyers, DeSantis said.

To qualify for this program, homebuyers must connect with a participating loan officer, have a minimum credit score of 640, provide certification for one of the eligible occupations, and meet the income threshold for their county. Eligible borrowers will receive up to 5% of the first mortgage loan amount (up to a maximum of $25,000) in down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a zero-interest loan for 30 years.

The loan would be repaid in full if the buyer sells, refinances, or rents out the home.

The program will help them achieve the “American Dream,” said Trey Price, executive director of Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

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