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Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program

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The recently launched Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program offers a robust financial aid package for first-time homeowners who want to purchase their first homes in the communities they serve.

Not sure whether you qualify or whether the program is worth your time? We’ll break down the Hometown Heroes program in detail so you can better understand its key advantages.

What Is the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program?

Put simply, the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program is a state-funded program meant to help frontline or critical workers purchase their first homes in local communities. 

For example, imagine a firefighter who wants to purchase a home in the same county in which they work. The Hometown Heroes program could help them do just that.

Who Administers the Hometown Heroes Program?

The Florida Hometown Heroes Program is administered by the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation. This official state-run organization is in charge of a variety of other homeownership assistance programs as well.

When Did the Hometown Heroes Program Begin?

The Hometown Heroes Program began on June 1, 2022, to mark the beginning of National Homeownership Month. Because the program is still in its infancy, it’s not yet clear whether it will be renewed year-over-year or if it will expand in the future.

Because of this uncertainty, aspiring homeowners may want to take advantage of the program sooner rather than later if they qualify.

Who Is Eligible for the Florida Hometown Heroes Program?

Although the Florida Hometown Heroes program can be a great way for many citizens to purchase their homes, only some Floridians are eligible. Here's a brief breakdown of who is eligible for home purchasing assistance through the Hometown Heroes program.

Specific Occupations Eligible for the Florida Hometown Heroes Program

Generally, only “front line community workers” are eligible for housing assistance through Hometown Heroes. Frontline workers include firefighters, law enforcement officers, childcare employees, active military personnel, and so on.

The official Florida Hometown Heroes website has a detailed breakdown of which occupations qualify. For instance, any firefighter employed by the Florida Division of State Fire Marshals within the Department of Financial Services qualifies for housing assistance through the Hometown Heroes program.

Similarly, eligible police officer occupations include:

  • Sworn law enforcement officers
  • Certified correction officers (who typically work at correctional facilities)
  • Correctional probation officers

If you want to know whether you can take advantage of the Hometown Heroes program, review this chart to see whether your profession is included on the eligibility list.

How Can You Qualify?

All program applicants must also be within the Hometown Heroes program’s income limits. These income limits are not fixed and are instead based on a person’s county of residence.

For example, according to the official Hometown Heroes program list, program applicants who live in Miami-Dade County must not have income exceeding $146,250 per year. In this way, the program is targeted at applicants with low-income relative to their current housing market.

What if It’s Not Your First Home?

What if you want to purchase a second home through the Hometown Heroes program? You could be eligible to participate in the Hometown Heroes program if you want to buy a second home in a federally designated target area.

Alternately, qualified and active-duty armed forces members (but not veterans’ spouses or family members) may still qualify for the Hometown Heroes program even if they already own one home under their name.

However, applicants who are not part of the above groups cannot use the Hometown Heroes program for a second home. FurthermoreIn most cases, the Hometown Heroes program can’t be used for any home purchase that isn’t intended to be one’s primary residence.

For example, if you want to purchase a property to rent out or share with a tenant (such as a duplex), you cannot receive financial assistance from Hometown Heroes.

What Assistance Does the Hometown Heroes Program Provide?

Applicants might wonder how the Hometown Heroes Housing Program can help them purchase their first homes. Let’s dive into the details.

First, eligible workers may receive lower-than-usual market rates for a variety of home loans. 

These include:

  • FHA loans
  • VA loans for veterans or veteran spouses
  • Rural Development loans
  • Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac first mortgage loans

Lower-than-usual interest rates directly translate to paying less for a home over a loan’s lifespan. Thus, these loan programs could be excellent ways to secure an affordable and accessible mortgage without having to settle for an exorbitantly high interest rate.

Additional Financial Assistance

Lower interest rates aren’t all. Eligible frontline workers may also receive financial assistance for their first mortgages in the form of:

  • Reduced upfront fees for things like closing costs.
  • No origination points or discount points on some home loans. (Note that this may require homeowners to pay more in terms of property insurance or homeowner’s insurance.)
  • Assistance with closing costs or down payments.

The down payment and closing cost assistance specifically is a major draw to the Hometown Heroes Housing Program. In a nutshell, the program allows applicants to take out a 0%, non-amortizing, and 30-year deferred second mortgage.

Upon sale of a new property, the second mortgage becomes due and payable. This allows a homeowner to then refinance their first mortgage and receive better terms.

Furthermore, borrowers through the Hometown Heroes Program can receive up to 5% of their total first mortgage loan amount up to a maximum of $25,000 in closing cost and/or down payment assistance.

For example, say that you apply for a mortgage through the Hometown Heroes Program. The house you want to purchase is $300,000.

You decide to put down an initial payment of 10%, or $30,000. If you qualify for the Hometown Heroes program, you could receive $25,000 to pay for that down payment and only have to pay $5000 out of pocket.

All that said, there is one risk with the Hometown Heroes Housing Program. Loans taken out through the program are not forgivable, so applicants should be sure that they can pay down the loans they take out over time.

Limits on Income and House Price

As noted above, the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program has income limitations for applicants. In other words, you can’t make more money than the income limit for your county of residence.

In addition to that limit, each applicant can only use the housing assistance funds for homes up to a certain price point. Let’s take another look at the example of an applicant in Miami-Dade County.

As noted earlier, an applicant in that county must not make more than $146,250 per year. That applicant can also only take out a loan for a maximum of $460,000 if they use an FHA or USDA loan or $647,200 if they use a conventional or VA loan.

Put another way: program applicants cannot use the program’s financial assistance to purchase wildly expensive properties. The whole point of the Hometown Heroes program is to provide housing assistance for frontline workers who wish to own homes in their communities; it is not a subsidy for exorbitant housing expenses.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program represents a great way for many frontline and essential workers to own their first homes — even with the higher than average housing costs and high mortgage rates that we’re seeing across the country. This program could help thousands of Americans get started on their homeownership journeys, allowing them to build wealth over time.

But what if you don’t qualify for this new program? You may still have options, especially if you contact knowledgeable home lenders like Vaster

Vaster began as a joint venture between two of South Florida’s biggest real estate firms — Fortune International Group and The Related Group. Over the years, we’ve gained extensive knowledge and expertise in the South Florida real estate market. We also continually work to expand our loan programs so that we can ensure that everyone has access to the most competitive rates and terms available.

Today, Vaster offers a variety of residential and commercial real estate loans for people just like you. Contact one of our loan officers today for more information.

 

Sources:

Eligible Occupations for FL Hometown Heroes Loan Program | Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program

Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program | floridahousing.org

Here Are Answers to Ten Questions About the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program | News-Press.com

Income and Purchase Price Limits | Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program

 

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