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Chenoa Fund Down Payment Assistance Program in Lee County, Florida

Owning a home is a dream for many Americans, but an uncertain economy, runaway inflation, and various other fiscal challenges have made this almost impossible for most. It’s almost impossible to come up with the high prices that come with purchasing a home outright or even coming up with the initial mortgage down payment that mortgage lenders require before they will provide any assistance.

One-way potential homeowners can get help overcoming the challenges of expensive down payments is through Down Payment Assistance programs (DPAs). The Chenoa Fund is one such program and has helped countless families afford their down payments and eventually own their own homes.

In this piece, we’ll explore the Chenoa Fund, how it can help you, and how to qualify for their assistance, focusing on potential homeowners in Lee County, Florida.

Let’s jump right in.

How Much Assistance the Chenoa Fund Provides

The Chenoa Fund is a Down Payment Assistance program that operates across the United States to make housing more affordable for Americans. The program is specifically targeted at helping middle- to low-income applicants and people purchasing their first homes, as these two groups are the ones who need this type of assistance the most.

Even so, the program is not limited exclusively to these groups. As long as you meet the minimum eligibility requirements, as we’ll explore below, you can access DPA loans for your home purchase. The program is administered by the CBCMA (CBC Mortgage Agency), a federally chartered government agency.

Chenoa Fund Loan Assistance Availability

The Chenoa Fund has a DPA limit of 3.5% of the down payment a potential buyer might need to set their dream in motion. The fund assists in the form of repayable or forgivable second mortgage loans that can be used with FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loans.

In the past, they were also compatible with conventional mortgages such as those provided by Fannie Mae, but these are no longer on offer.

To access DPA loans from the Chenoa Fund, you will have to make your application to an accredited or approved lender who is given the authority to offer loans on the fund’s behalf. The lenders are given underwriting authority from the federal government, which acts as their insurance in case borrowers default on their payments, thus protecting them from potential losses through the program.

The upside for borrowers is that these lenders are much more willing to lend to applicants since they do not directly bear any risks from the loan. As long as you meet the minimum eligibility requirements set up by the fund, you have a good chance of your application being approved.

Chenoa Fund DPA Programs

Several programs are available under the Chenoa Fund umbrella that works with FHA loans. The conditions of these loans stipulate that the money received must be put towards paying off the down payment to a maximum of 3.5% and not towards closing costs or other associated expenses.

In short, Chenoa Fund loans will help you cover your down payments, leaving you responsible for the closing costs of your purchase. The FHA-compliant programs offered are:

The Chenoa Fund DPA Edge

This may be considered a ‘Soft Second’ mortgage and is most popular with low-income earners because it does not require borrowers to pay it back. These are entirely forgivable loans when used to cover a borrower’s down payment.

If you have a Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio of less than 45% or a FICO score (credit score) higher or equal to 620, you will be eligible for this interest-free second mortgage product, not call for monthly down payments. Note that the DTI requirements will also increase with higher credit scores.

After 36 months (3 years), this loan product will be forgiven by the lender, but this will rest on the condition that you, the borrower, keep up with all the required payments on your primary mortgage. This means you cannot be any later than 30 days on your monthly mortgage payments to qualify for loan forgiveness.

Should you fall behind on your payment or make late payments for some reason, the 36 months will be reset, thus giving you another chance to earn the loan forgiveness on offer.

The DPA Edge program from Chenoa Fund provides that borrowers cannot earn more than 115% of the median income in their county of residence. The point of this provision is to try and ensure that only the neediest loan applicants have access to the fund.

The Chenoa Fund Edge Repayable Second Product

No income limits will be placed on borrowers to be eligible for the DPA. To qualify, borrowers need to have a Debt-to-Income ratio of less than 45% and a credit score of no less than 620. The DTI maximum will go up with higher credit scores.

The Chenoa Fund Edge Repayable Second Product loan comes with two terms for choosing from. You may opt to take a 30-year loan at 5% interest or a 10-year loan at 0% interest.

The Chenoa Fund Rate Advantage Program

This is the most popular Chenoa Fund DPA product available to borrowers. Here, you have the opportunity to set a fixed interest rate on their primary mortgage in addition to receiving a 3.5% down payment assistance loan.

This DPA loan product has a 10-year term with an interest rate of 8 percent. The minimum credit score that qualifies for this product is 540, coupled with a maximum DTI of 50%. The applicable income limit for potential borrowers here is 135 percent of the median income limit for the county they live in.

Does the Chenoa Fund Offer DPA Loans to Conventional Loan Holders?

If you have a conventional primary loan, the unfortunate reality is that you will not be eligible for Chenoa Down Payment Assistance loans.

They were supported in the past, offering 3.5% down payment assistance with the freedom to allocate part of them towards closing costs (after the down payment is taken care of). Still, they have been suspended until further notice from the relevant authorities.

Who Qualifies for the Chenoa Fund Down Payment Assistance Program?

Several eligibility requirements apply to all potential borrowers interested in the Chenoa Fund Program. They are as follows:

Debt-to-Income Ratio

You should have a minimum Debt-to-Income ratio of 45% or lower. Your DTI is calculated by taking your total debt obligations (student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, etc.) and dividing their total by your total income.

The resulting ratio indicates how easy or difficult it will be for you to take on additional debt and pay it off when they are required to. This helps lenders make the best decision when determining who to lend money to.

Credit Score

You need to have a FICO score of 620 or above. Your FICO (Fair, Isaac, and Company) score is a measure of your credit risk determined by analyzing your credit history (how reliable you are when it comes to paying your debts on time) to determine whether you are a credit risk or not.

The higher your FICO score, the less of a credit risk you are and the more likely lenders will offer you a loan.

The Type of Primary Loan you Currently Have

You should have an FHA-backed mortgage as your primary loan to qualify for Chenoa Fund DPAs. Federal Housing Administration loans have their own set of requirements, which include:

  • You need to live in or intend to live in the home in question as your primary residence.

  • You have not had a foreclosure served to you within the past three years of applying for the loan.

  • You have a documented and steady employment history or provable assets/income demonstrating your ability to keep up with your loan payments.

Mortgage loan agreement application with key

Benefits of the Chenoa Loan Program

Aside from providing the obvious benefit of making down payments affordable for many thousands of Americans, the Chenoa DPA Loan Fund provides the following advantages to borrowers:

Borrower Counseling Services

To ensure that borrowers succeed in their attempts to purchase property, they provide pre- and post-purchase counseling to give borrowers guidance and advice. This is known as the Borrower Success Program, and it organizes monthly check-ins where borrowers may have any challenges, requests, questions, or pertinent issues addressed by professional, supportive counselors.

All the counselors have extensive industry experience and are approved by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department.

Expanded Programs

Because the Chenoa Fund is not reliant on government subsidies to remain operational, it has the freedom to expand its services and priorities beyond the strict provision of DPAs.

They are involved in partnerships with organizations such as the UHOUSI initiative, whose mission is to increase the rate of African-American and minority homeownership in the United States.

Potential Downsides of Chenoa Fund Loans

While the Chenoa Fund Down Payment Assistance program has a lot of positive aspects to recommend, it has its share of potential drawbacks, just like any other loan product out there.

The repayment area is the main area where the Chenoa Fund might let you down. Most Chenoa Fund loans must be repaid after a certain time, except for the DPA Edge Soft Second Loan.

There is, however, a simple way of avoiding this potential downside. First of all, check and find out whether you qualify for any other Down Payment Assistance Loans in your county. Explore your options and determine whether you are eligible for any forgivable loans or home buying grants you will not have to pay back.

Even as we consider these minor obstacles, it’s essential to keep in mind that the Chenoa Fund offers much better terms than you will find with other Down Payment Assistance programs. Their borrower counseling program is a unique and beneficial additional perk. In short, you might do well to consider taking a Chenoa Fund loan, even if they require repayment.

Applying for Chenoa DPA Loans

Applying for Chenoa Fund Down Payment Assistance loans is designed to be as easy and efficient as possible. For this reason, only one point of contact will be required, which will be any of the numerous correspondent lenders authorized to approve Chenoa Fund loans.

The complete list of approved lenders can be obtained by sending a request email to the program’s official website,

Where to Find Great Acai Bowls in Lee County, Florida

Acai (pronounced as ah-sah-hee) berries are extracted from the Acai palm, which is native to South America. These berries have an eclectic taste, with some people finding them somewhat earthy with pomegranate and raspberry hints, while others liken them to a cross between dark chocolate and blackberries.

The popularity of Acai bowls began in Brazil, where Jiu-jitsu practitioners would take this superfood regularly for its nutritional benefits.

Over time, this smooth, creamy preparation’s fame has spread beyond Brazil’s borders, with different regions and cultures adding their variations to the traditional blend by including various nutritious and delicious fruits, vegetables, nuts, and sugars.

Lee County has been at the forefront of the Acai wave sweeping America, and the availability of delicious, year-round fruits and berries in the state of Florida makes it a great place to find the most delicious Acai bowls available anywhere in the country.

While some juice bars and kiosks have tasty varieties, most consumers in the United States prefer sweeter mixtures. Should you ever find yourself in Lee County, here are a few Acai bowl hotspots you shouldn’t miss out on.

Bahia Bowls Cafe

Bahia Bowls Cafe was founded in 2017 to provide Lee County residents with an exciting new dining option for growing, active generations.

They specialize in the ‘fast casual’ healthy dining niche that emphasizes superfoods, fresh fruits, and specialty toppings that can be customized to suit every customer’s taste. This bar is located at 20321 Grande Oak Shoppes Blvd.

Barefoot Bodie - This bowl includes blended Acai, peanut butter, banana, blueberries, strawberries, and hemp milk. It is topped with strawberries, granola, coconut shreds, honey, and banana.

Clean Juice Estero

This juice bar is located in Estero, a small village in Lee County. The village is the home of the Florida Everblades and Florida Gulf Coast University and is a popular destination for tourists and travelers all year round.

The Clean Juice outlet is on 4890 Big Island Drive and specializes in organic acai bowl creations.

The Key West - This bowl comprises blended Acai, pineapple, mango, coconut milk, and banana. It is topped with strawberries, granola, coconut shreds, and honey.

Dockside Juicery

This organic cafe was opened with a vision of providing Lee County residents with healthy alternatives to the usual smoothies that were popular in the state.

They guarantee their clients that all their ingredients are 100 percent organic and ethically sourced and boast of the health benefits their clients enjoy from taking their Acai bowls.

AB&J - This bold mix is made out of blended Acai, strawberries, blueberries, almond milk, almond butter, and banana. It is topped with blueberries, granola, banana, hemp hearts, honey, and coconut shreds.

JoJo’s Bowls

This is a family-owned establishment that has served Lee County residents and visitors for over nine years now. They are dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle for Florida residents and collaborate closely with local suppliers, schools, churches, and other local organizations to try and spread their message.

Aside from their fresh, healthy, and delicious Acai bowls, they also offer a variety of warm or cold morning, lunch, dinner, and snack options.

Berry+Green - This comes with blended Acai, strawberries, apple juice, spinach, and blueberries. It is topped with strawberries, honey, blueberries, and granola.


This fast-casual healthy eating outlet is the brainchild of a husband-and-wife team that started out preparing healthy Acai bowls and smoothies in their kitchen. Eden and Brad McEntire focused their efforts on creating hand-crafted pure Acai bowls, gourmet toasts, Hawaiian poke bowls, and superfood smoothies.

They have a comprehensive menu of sweet and savory options and pride themselves on only using premium ingredients in their menu items. They have plenty of gluten-free, vegan, and dairy options and never include fillers or artificial sweeteners in their creations.

Green Tide - This bowl contains blended Acai, spirulina, apple juice, strawberries, and banana. It is topped with honey, granola, banana, strawberries, and blueberries.

Final Thoughts

The Chenoa Fund is a nationwide Down Payment assistance program focused on providing sustainable and affordable housing solutions for creditworthy low-income and moderate-income citizens. Should you meet the eligibility requirements outlined in this piece, applying for a Chenoa Fund DPA loan may be the best bet on your path to homeownership.

Aside from the loans they provide to countless borrowers, they also offer relevant guidance and counseling services to ensure that your efforts are successful in the end. Reach out to an accredited lender who will guide you through the rest of the process. Best of luck!

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