Florida will soon make it easier for “hometown heroes” like teachers and first responders to buy a home.
Speaking in Cape Coral on Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters he would approve $100 million for front-line workers in critical professions as part of a new Hometown Hero Housing Program within the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC). The Legislature approved that funding within the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The program will help what the Governor’s Office called “essential community workers” in 50 professions who are first-time, income-qualified homebuyers with down payment and closing cost assistance to purchase a primary residence in the communities they serve.
“If they want to recruit a police officer to work, say, for Cape Coral Police Department, it really matters if they can afford to have a home here and live in the community and shop in the same stores, to go to (grocery stores) and see everybody,” DeSantis said.
Eligible borrowers — including teachers, nurses, law enforcement officers and firefighters — could receive up to 5%, up to $25,000, of their first mortgage loan amount in down payment and closing cost assistance. More than 1,000 lenders are ready to begin assisting “hometown heroes” in buying a home, said FHFC Executive Director Trey Price.
“We’re extremely grateful to the front line workers who have remained committed to their communities during these challenging times, many of whom must drive long hours to work because they can’t afford to live in the same town that they work so hard to serve and protect,” Price said. “By helping these individuals bridge the financial gap to homeownership, they’ll finally be able to achieve the American Dream for their families.”
The program will begin June 1, which also marks the start of National Homeownership Month. DeSantis is expected to sign the funding, paid for out of the State Housing Trust Fund, in the coming weeks.
Cape Coral Police Officer Ashton Wolfe noted the FHFC Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program, a precursor to the Hometown Hero Housing Program, helped him buy a home at the age of 23 despite Florida having a seller’s market.
“I’m the only person I know at the age of 23 that’s buying a home, so it’s done great things for me,” Wolfe said.
Melba Lugo, a 63-year-old second grade teacher at Mid Cape Global Academy, told Florida Politics that when she moved into her new home three weeks ago, she paid only $1,000 for the down payment and around $5,680 for the closing costs thanks to state programs.
Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle, whose agency oversees FHFC, was born in Cape Coral and represented the city in the Florida House for eight years. Eagle noted DeSantis’ “freedom first” policies have helped draw people to move to Florida.
One such program is a $1,000 bonus program for people becoming law enforcement officers in Florida for the first time as part of this year’s law enforcement recruitment package (HB 3). DeSantis credited Florida’s treatment of law enforcement officers for flipping officer shortages into waiting lists.
“Over the years, you had more and more that had availability, and didn’t necessarily have all the flood of applications,” the Republican Governor said. “But I think what we’ve done has really helped change the narrative in Florida, because we’ve supported the people wearing the uniform.”
DeSantis’ comments came as lawmakers met in Tallahassee to kick off a week-long Special Session addressing the property insurance market, which has struggled in recent years following a deluge of hurricanes.
May 23, 2022 at 1:15 pm
This sounds like socialism to me. Can’t these “essential workers” just pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Or how about paying them higher salaries? Or doing something about the inflating prices for houses and condos caused by retirees and snowbirds?
Mark Anthony Post
May 31, 2022 at 7:20 pm
I agree with Jim. ^
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