New Florida program helps ‘hometown heroes’ buy their first homes, DeSantis says

To help people buy homes in the communities they serve, a new program will assist “vital” workers among 50 professions with down payment and closing costs, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday.

The initiative, called the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program, begins June 1, as the state faces rising costs in housing. The state’s initiative will cost taxpayers $100 million. There are 1,000 lenders involved in the program to start providing assistance to essential workers, such as police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses and teachers, among other professions.


“We have worked harder than anybody to support the people in our communities that support us, and so that means the people that wear the uniform,” DeSantis said.

But the announcement drew criticism Monday from those who say the money comes from a state pot of funds that was intended to help low-income renters, by building affordable apartments.


Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said the program “feels more political than best practice. The concern a lot of us have is we have folks who are struggling, working people whose rent is going up, and they don’t qualify for this program.”

Her sister, Ida Eskamani, is a member of the Florida Housing Justice Alliance, a group of organizations that aims to protect renters and ensure affordable housing. She said she’s discouraged that “struggling, low-income” professions such as servers, farm workers, construction workers and grocery store clerks aren’t on the list. “They don’t need this,” she said of doctors, who are among those eligible.

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To qualify for the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program, homebuyers must connect with a participating loan officer, have a minimum credit score of 640, provide certification for one of the eligible occupations, and meet the income threshold for their county. Eligible borrowers will receive up to 5% of the first mortgage loan amount (up to a maximum of $25,000) in down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a zero-interest loan for 30 years.

The income limit in Broward County is $136,050; Palm Beach County is $138,000; Miami-Dade County is $146,250; and Orange County is $124,350. For more information about the eligibility requirements, visit

Among the professions that will qualify for aid include:

  • Physicians, anesthesiologists, dentists and veterinarians
  • Law enforcement officers, correctional officers, probation officers and 911 operators and juvenile detention officers
  • Firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians
  • Teachers, school psychologists and day care instructors
  • Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and home health aides
  • Massage therapists

In addition, all military active duty personnel moving to Florida and the surviving spouses of deceased veterans also will qualify for the assistance. Veterans also qualify, regardless of whether they are first-time buyers, DeSantis said.

The loan would be repaid in full if the buyer sells, refinances, or rents out the home.

The program will help them achieve the “American dream,” said Trey Price, executive director of Florida Housing Finance Corporation, which will run the program.


Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at or 954-572-2008 or Twitter @LisaHuriash