Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has approved a new program that will help teachers, medical professionals, public safety workers and other frontline heroes buy a home.
During a news conference at the Cape Coral Police Department on Monday, DeSantis said the "Hometown Heroes" program is necessary so people in a number of professions can purchase homes near the communities they serve.
"It really matters if they can afford to have a home here and live in the community and shop in the same store … and see everybody than if you have to commute from, far away, just because 45 minutes away maybe is where you can find a home that's affordable for you," DeSantis explained.
Gov. DeSantis Launches Hometown Heroes Program https://t.co/7NhYe82jp2
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 23, 2022
DeSantis approved nearly $363 million for affordable, workforce housing in this year's budget, including the $100 million in the budget for the Hometown Heroes Housing Program, passed by the state legislature — the largest funding in 15 years.
Borrowers can receive up to 5 percent - at a maximum of $25,000 - on first mortgage loans for down-payment and closing-cost assistance.
Funds for the program won't be available until July 1. However, the governor said eligible applicants can begin applying on June 1.
Florida's Secretary of Economic Opportunity Dane Eagle pointed out that people are leaving states like New York and California to come to the Sunshine State. He said the initiative will help these "working-class citizens."
DeSantis allowed two recipients of the program to speak during the ceremony – a police officer in his 20s and a teacher in her 60s.
"The program Salute Our Soldiers, which is becoming the Hometown Heroes program, allowed me to buy a house at the age of 23 and I am the only 23-year-old I know that is buying a home, so it has done great things for me," said Officer Ashton Wolfe with the Cape Coral Police Department.
Melba Lugo, a second-grade teacher at Mid Cape Global Academy shared that, until now, owning a home seemed like a "distant, far away dream."
"Thank you for this program, and I want to thank all of these people that have made this possible," Lugo said. "I am 63 and at this age, you are supposed to be paying off your mortgage, but everything is good and beautiful when you walk in God's time."
Hometown Heroes is administered by the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation.
The program will cover workers in categories such as: Veterans, Active-Duty Military, surviving spouses of deceased veterans, Teachers, Sworn Law Enforcement Officers, Paramedics, EMTs, 911 Public Safety Operators, Firefighters, Registered Nurses, LPNs, CNAs, Home Health Aides, Health Care Practitioners, Child Care Operators, Daycare Instructors, Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, Juvenile Detention Officers, and Juvenile Probation Officers, among others.