What Is The Hometown Heroes Program?

17, November, 2023

The Hometown Heroes Program makes buying a home in Florida more affordable for eligible workers. It specifically aids first-time, income-qualified homebuyers by assisting with down payment and closing costs.

Governor Ron DeSantis launched the program in 2022 and has expanded it to include a wider range of homebuyers.

How Does The Hometown Heroes Program Work?

The Hometown Heroes program provides down payment and closing cost assistance up to $35,000. Eligible borrowers receive 5% of their total loan amount in assistance when purchasing a home in the community where they work. This assistance can be used for down payment, closing costs, pre-paid tax and insurance escrows, and upfront mortgage insurance premiums.

The loan is a 30-year, non-amortizing, deferred second mortgage with 0% interest. Buyers do not pay any interest or monthly payment on the assistance amount. The payment is made when the home is sold, refinanced, the mortgage loan amount is paid off, or the homeowner no longer occupies as their primary residence.

Hometown Heroes Program Benefits

Florida Veteran returns to home purchased using hometown heroes program.

The Hometown Heroes program reduces the upfront costs that can often become a barrier for first-time homebuyers. Benefits include:

  • You can use it with an FHA, VA, USDA, or conventional mortgage
  • Lower than market interest rates
  • Reduced upfront fees
  • No origination points
  • Up to $35,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance

Hometown Heroes Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility for the Hometown Heroes program has adjusted over time. Currently, to qualify homebuyers must meet the following criteria:

  • Employment: Buyers must work 35+ hours a week and hold full-time employment with a Florida-based employer. For self-employed borrowers, additional documentation and requirements are available.
  • First-Time Homebuyer: Borrowers are not eligible if they have owned a primary residence in the past 3 years.
  • Primary Residence: The borrower must live in the home they are buying as their main residence within 60 days of closing.
  • Property Type: Single-family residences, townhouses, condos, villas, and structures with 2-4 units are all allowed. Manufactured homes are eligible with adjusted qualifications.
  • Homebuyer Education: Borrowers must attend an approved Homebuyer Education course.
  • Credit Score: Buyer must have a minimum 640 credit score.
  • Debt-To-Income Ratio: Borrowers must fall below the maximum debt-to-income ratio of 50%.
  • Income Limit: Borrowers must meet certain income requirements. They must earn below 150% of the area median income.
  • Your Mortgage Lender: Homebuyers must work with one of Florida Housing’s participating loan officers.

Veterans and Active-Duty Personnel are exempt from some of the above. If you are an Active Military borrower be sure to contact your lender for more information. 

First-Time Homebuyer Guide

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Mortgage Loan Types

You can use the Hometown Heroes program with a government-backed, purchase loan. These include conventional conventional, FHA, VA, or USDA loans.

The program only allows purchase loans, so refinance and construction-to-permanent loans are not allowed.

Income Limits By County 

To qualify, homebuyers must be earning less than 150% of their community’s median income (AMI). In addition, there are county specific income limits ranging from $128,250 to $874,000.

Click here for a full list of income limits by county.

Hometown Heroes Program Funding

With the launch of the Hometown Heroes program in June of 2022, the state of Florida provided an initial $100 million in down payment and closing cost assistance. By January of 2023, these funds helped 6,753 eligible homebuyers.

The Florida Legislature released an additional $100 million in July of 2023 to fund the Hometown Heroes program. This allotment was expected to extend through the 2023-2024 fiscal year. After just two months these funds helped more than 6,400 families purchase a home in their local community.

Because of the success of the program, The Florida Housing Finance Corporation announced in November of 2023 that they would reopen the program with an additional $36 million in funds.

Stay up to date with the latest news on future Hometown Heroes funding with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

What Is Down Payment Assistance?

Understand the types of down payment assistance programs that are available to homebuyers.

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Down Payment Assistance In Florida

Florida Housing offers various down payment and closing cost assistance programs to eligible borrowers outside the Hometown Heroes program.

The Florida Assist (FL Assist)

This second mortgage program can cover up to $10,000 on a conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loan. It must be used with a Florida Housing 30-year, fixed-rate first mortgage and is deferred – not forgivable.

Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP)

This is a second mortgage that carries a monthly payment. It offers $10,000 in down payment assistance funds for a 15-year, 3% fixed-rate mortgage.

HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUS

Instead of offering a set amount in down payment assistance, this program offers 3% to 5% of the total loan amount. A 0% interest rate and no monthly payments are offered, with 1/5 of the loan forgiven each year for five years.

Final Thoughts

To combat rising home prices, the state of Florida provides various pathways for potential borrowers to become first-time homebuyers. By connecting with a local loan officer, buyers can identify the available programs that best fit their financial needs.

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