Speaking at the entrance to the Florida Senate on Wednesday morning, the state’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronisjoined by the sponsor of the program, the senator Ed Hooper and President of Florida Realtors Christina Papas touted the Florida Hometown Hero housing program that would provide “Hometown Heroes” — law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators and health care workers — with home loan assistance.
The Florida Hometown Hero program was proposed in the 2022 legislative session and would lower the initial cost of getting into a home by offering zero-interest loans to people who qualify by occupation. The loans would provide up to 5% of the purchase price and would include Floridians who belong to the “Hometown Heroes” series of occupations and have an income no more than 150% of the state or local median income.
“I’m a big proponent of home ownership. All we’re trying to do with this bill is help realize the American dream, the Florida dream; Our Hometown Hero program is an amazing program where we are going to do a revolving loan program,” Patronis said. “Any time there are new owners in Florida, it’s a stabilizing force for good, but it also rings the state cash register for the state’s economy. This will be an incredible bill when it hits Governor DeSantis’ desk. »
House prices are steadily rising in Florida, with the median price increasing 73% over the past 30 years, from $155,824 in 1990 to $269,400 in 2020. As salaries for the “Hometown Heroes” occupation range did not grow at the same rate. than housing costs, many find themselves unable to live in the communities they serve, leading to the onset of a housing crisis.
“It was the hot real estate market that began to pull our hard-working Floridians, our heroes, out of the communities in which they work. The bill proposed by Senator Hooper today is a concrete way to help our ‘local heroes’ get the boost they need, the hand they need to be able to own a home in the face of numbers daunting,” Pappas said. “Prices have increased by 21% over the past year. Since 2016, an increase of 58%. It’s no wonder that working Floridians now find themselves unable to afford a home.
Florida Realtors research found that to pay monthly mortgage payments on a median amount, Floridians would need to earn about $62,000 a year. However, the average salaries of “Hometown Heroes” fall below this mark. Paramedics, pharmacy technicians, firefighters and professional nurses all earn less than $50,000 a year on average, putting them well below the minimum for homeownership. Senator Hooper’s bill aims to make this more affordable and manageable for those who have the most direct impact on our communities.
“The median home price in Florida is $347,000, an increase of 21% over last year. Can any of you name a key “local hero” who received a 21% pay raise last year? You can’t because there isn’t,” said Senator Hooper. “I think it’s important that if we show how much we appreciate them, give them the opportunity to buy a home and be part of this community where they served every day. This will be the last bill I’m sponsoring this year, to say to these people, “I appreciate you.”
The bill passed the transportation, tourism and economic development appropriations subcommittee and the community affairs committee favorably, both unanimously, and is now awaiting a full vote before being passed. be signed into law by Governor DeSantis.