Florida Realtors secures housing victory for hometown heroes

Veteran entrepeneur
The help couldn’t come at a better time.

Through two of the toughest years in memory, tens of thousands of vital Florida workers — including nurses, teachers, and first responders — continued to show up for work every day, working tirelessly and at personal risk to keep the rest of us safe and healthy. Yet many of these professionals could only stand by helplessly as the skyrocketing Florida housing market pushed homeownership further from their reach.

This year, Florida Realtors worked closely with the Legislature to provide a helping hand in the form of $100 million to create the Florida Hometown Hero Housing Program. This new revolving loan program is designed to ease the burden of down payments and closing costs, providing as much as 5% of the first mortgage loan amount up to $25,000.

The program, which was placed in the state budget and is now awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, will make owning a home a realistic possibility for thousands of police officers, firefighters, teachers, EMTs, and nurses and their families. The help couldn’t come at a better time.

For countless hardworking Floridians, the dream of homeownership has been spinning out of control. Overall, housing prices have spiked 58% since 2016. And things are much worse in certain parts of the state — including median home prices of $410,000 around Fort Myers, $458,000 in the Sarasota-Bradenton area, $530,000 in South Florida, and an eye-popping $700,000 in the Naples area.

In nearly every community across the state, home prices are rising, and many of our hometown heroes are being left behind. Florida Realtors and their members across the state made sure the Legislature saw these startling numbers, and lawmakers responded with a concrete solution that will help thousands of these essential workers. Legislators also proposed a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, will grant an additional property tax exemption for members of many hometown hero professions, and allocated $262 million for existing affordable housing programs, which is the largest allocation these programs have seen in quite some time.

“These three important initiatives will help so many brave men and women achieve and maintain the dream of homeownership,” said Christina Pappas, president of Florida Realtors. “Two years into the pandemic, we believe the Legislature’s new efforts represent tremendous progress in helping many of these critical workers afford a new home in the communities where they serve, and to make it easier for those who already have a home to keep it.”

These initiatives will complement existing local, state, and federal affordable housing programs so that recipients can receive as much assistance as possible.

“Make no mistake: There is still much work that needs to be done to put homeownership within reach for all Floridians,” Pappas said. “But legislative leaders made significant progress this year and our members across the state will continue to work with local, state, and federal officials to bring creative solutions to the table.”

Staff Reports


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