With increased gas prices, inflation, and housing costs on the rise, we are all in the midst of a challenging economic season.
Despite these difficulties, Florida’s frontline workers have continued to show up every day for their communities. Law enforcement officers, educators, and healthcare professionals are just a few of the critical professions that help make our state a great place to live, work and do business; yet for many of these individuals the American Dream of homeownership remains just out of reach.
These workforce professionals who cannot afford to live in the same communities they serve must often live outside of town in an area that’s more affordable. This forces them to drive long hours, adding congestion to Florida’s roads, and allowing for less time at home with their families.
The Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program launched this week aims to ease their burden by providing more than 50 professions with the necessary assistance to bridge that financial gap and finally purchase a home. This revolving, zero-interest loan program offers up to $25,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a second mortgage to eligible community workers who earn less than 150% of their area median income.
As Chairman of the Board for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, I’m extremely proud that we are administering this program to give back to essential workers in a meaningful way. As the state’s housing finance agency, Florida Housing works daily to implement high-quality housing solutions that meet the unique needs of Florida’s citizens.
The Hometown Heroes program was designed to allow more middle-class families to take advantage of these resources, however there are specific income limitations in place to ensure funds are going to workers truly in need of assistance. Additionally, since this is a revolving program, whenever one of these individuals sells, rents, or refinances a home that was purchased with Hometown Heroes funds, they will be required to pay back that loan and the money will become available to assist another essential worker.
We recognize there are other hardworking Floridians who may not fall under one of the eligible Hometown Heroes professions but still require housing assistance. This is not our only active homeownership program, and we encourage families in need to visit Florida Housing’s website to learn about other resources you may qualify for.
The Hometown Heroes program launched on June 1 in conjunction with the beginning of National Homeownership Month, an occasion that celebrates the value that owning a home brings to families, communities, and neighborhoods across America. By providing more Floridians with a place to call home, we are helping facilitate healthy family environments, building stronger communities, and increasing local economic impact. Even better, as individuals begin receiving the assistance needed to move into their home, they will be vacating rental units throughout the state, opening them up to others in need.
Ron Lieberman is Board Chair, Florida Housing Finance Corporation, and a past president of the Florida Home Builders Association as well as Chairman of the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority Advisory Committee.
(For more information about the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program, please call 844-247-6555 or visit www.floridahousing.org/hometownheroes.)
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