For Cheryl Hodges Cummings, 2021 closed with the culmination of a lifelong dream.
Cummings told reporters Monday she was “elated” Dec. 30 when she was able to close on her first home. And she said that dream wouldn’t have come true without Tampa’s “DARE to Own the Dream” program.
“I would tell everyone and encourage them to go for their dream,” she said. “It is a process, so don’t think it’s going to happen soon. But the people at DARE, my Realtor, the city of Tampa, everyone was there. I’d just pick up the phone and call them — ‘Hey I need this, help me with this’ — and they were there. So I encourage everyone to step out on a leap of faith and go for the opportunity to own your home.”
And now, even more homes in Tampa are eligible for the program.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor Monday announced the city expanded the purchase limit for DARE, one of its most popular housing support programs. Castor said the city moved the DARE cap to $300,000 as rent and housing prices continue to climb. It’s just shy of the state-mandated $311,000 limit.
“In the past, the program has been limited to homes that cost a maximum of $240,000,” Castor said. “Anybody that has taken a look at real estate in the city of Tampa knows that that price is not reasonable. That ceiling is not reasonable any longer.”
DARE provides first-time buyers with fully forgivable down payment assistance loans. The city also raised the loan amount from a $30,000 to $40,000 cap. DARE is available to buyers with a household income at or below 40% of the area median income.
Affordable housing has been a major part of Castor’s Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow initiative. When she took office in 2019, Castor pledged to add 10,000 new affordable housing units to the city’s inventory by 2027. So far, she’s well over halfway to that goal in just a quarter of the time.
“I’m very proud to say, thanks to our housing and development team and many others that have played a part in providing these units, these homes, that we are over 6,000 right now,” she said. “We certainly intend to meet that goal. And I hope we literally blow it out of the water because our community needs affordable and workforce housing.”