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Hometown Heroes Loan Program - Learn How to Get up to a $35,000 Grant in Gadsden County, Florida

Florida is on the verge of a housing crisis, with rent and house prices increasing over the past year. Community workers are the most affected by this crisis. A recent study by Florida Realtors even shows that these full-time workers can't afford to buy a home in the neighborhoods they work.

On the bright side, a bill to create a new housing program in Florida was created and enacted. The bill made it possible for the Hometown Heroes Loan Program to be conceptualized.

Hometown Heroes acknowledges that homeownership is the standard for attaining the American dream. It seeks to make this dream come true for many eligible workers.

Here's a detailed breakdown of how this program works and how to get it in Gadsden County, FL, plus factors that make Gadsden County an attractive place to live and work in:

What the Hometown Heroes Loan Program Entails

Also known as Hometown Heroes, the Florida Hometown Heroes aims to make housing affordable for eligible community workers. It provides them with down payment and closing cost assistance when they want to buy a home.

The program also offers a first mortgage with lower rates and additional unique benefits if you currently serve your community or continue to serve your country.

Hometown Heroes is administered through The Bond Alternative (TBA) by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

TBA seeks to preserve and increase affordable housing opportunities for eligible community workers in Florida. Your first-time homebuyer status and income will be the only things that the program considers.

Through the Hometown Heroes Loan program, you get a chance to buy a home and live in the community you work and serve.

Though the program doesn't permit lenders to charge the origination fee, it allows them to charge reasonable fees to process the loan.

You won't have to pay an upfront 1 percent origination fee, which is standard when taking other first mortgage loan products offered by FL Housing.

You can take a second mortgage with a 5 percent rate capped at $35,000 in closing cost and down payment assistance. The loan will also form a zero percent non-amortizing and 30-year repayable mortgage.

However, if any of the following occur, the borrower(s) refinance, pay off the first mortgage, transfer deed or no longer occupy the property as their primary residence, any unpaid principal balance will be required to be repaid, in full.

First Mortgage Programs Under Hometown Heroes

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FL Housing) offers two conventional loan programs and three government mortgage programs under Hometown Heroes.

These programs come with different terms you must familiarize yourself with before applying. They include:

  • The Florida First Heroes (also known as FL First) that encompasses USDA-RD, FHA, and VA for TBA - Offers you a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with the entitlement to down payment assistance.

  • HFA Preferred Heroes for TBA (a conventional Fannie Mae Offering) - Boasts a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage that entitles you to reduced PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) premiums provided your AMI is below 80 percent and down payment assistance.

  • FL HFA Advantage Heroes for TBA (a conventional Freddie Mac offering) - Offers you a 30-year, fixed-rate home loan with reduced cost PMI premiums, provided your AMI is under 80 percent and down payment assistance.

Hometown Heroes Loan Program Requirements

To be considered for Hometown Heroes, you are not supposed to exceed the income limit requirements set for household sizes and counties in which you are buying a home.

The contracted buying price should also not exceed the purchase price limits in the particular county you plan to buy a home from.

As a Gadsden County, FL resident, your income should be $129,000 and below for you to enlist in the program.

HFA Advantage, HFA Preferred, and VA programs may offer you a loan of not more than $726,200. You can also apply for FHA programs under Hometown Heroes for a loan not exceeding $472,030. USDA-RD does not have a Cap on Loan Limit.

You must prove your intent to occupy the home within 60 days of closing. This is because the loan can't be used to finance a secondary property.

Your co-signer won't be mandated to attend the Homebuyer Education for you to be approved for the loan.

If you are a non-citizen applicant, you must comply with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, USDA-RD, and VA's citizen requirements to enlist for the program. You also need adequate documentation to prove that you are lawfully allowed to reside in Florida.

Other Requirements that You Should Meet

Hometown Heroes doesn't require you to use your assets in the application process.

However, you have to attend a Homebuyer Education course before getting approved. The course will help you understand the ins and outs of finding, buying, and owning a residential property.

Borrower(s) must be employed full-time by a Florida-based employer and work 35 or more hours per week. A written or verbal VOE indicating employment of 35 hours or more a week must be provided for all borrower(s).

You have to meet the first-time homebuyer requirement in the application process. In this case, the program will require you to prove that you haven't had any ownership interest in a home within the past three years.

Ownership interest, in this context, is reflected in the property's deed. The only hometown heroes exempted from this requirement are active-duty military personnel and veterans.

Florida Tax Exemption Benefits

One of the top benefits of using the Hometown Heroes Program is tax exemption, saving you thousands of dollars.

Under Section 420.513(1) of the Florida Statutes, this program provides an exemption from documentary stamp tax and intangible tax for first and second mortgages and notes used to secure loans for housing financed through Florida Housing's Homebuyer Programs.

This means that when you purchase a home through these programs, you won't have to pay the documentary stamp tax and intangible tax on your mortgage, saving you a substantial amount of money.

The Florida documentary stamp tax is a real estate transfer tax levied at a rate of $0.70 per $100 paid for the property in most counties, except Miami Dade, where it is $0.60 per $100.

With the Hometown Heroes Program, you can exclude this tax when you meet the program's criteria. Additionally, the Florida intangible tax, which is calculated at 2 mills per dollar of the note's just value secured by the mortgage, is also exempted.

For each $100,000 of your home purchase price, this exemption can potentially save you approximately $2,000 in documentary stamp tax and intangible tax.

Cost of Living in Gadsden County, Florida

Gadsden County is situated in the panhandle of Florida, with a population of 43,826 as of the 2020 census.

The county has an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent (the national average is 6.0 percent) and a job market that rose by 2.2 percent over the last year. Jobs are expected to increase in the next decade to 34.8 percent (the US average is 33.5 percent).

Expect to pay a sales tax of 7.5 percent (the national average is 7.3 percent) and an income tax rate of zero percent (the national average is 4.6 percent) when residing in the county.

The average resident income is $18,101 per year (the US average stands at $28,555 per year). Also, the median household income in the county ($36,146 a year) is lower than the national average ($53,482 a year).

Gadsden County's overall cost of living score of 83.4 (the US average is 100, while Florida's average is 102.8). Groceries have an affordability score of 93.8 (Florida's is 102.8, while the country's average is 100).

It costs more (affordability score of 124.8) to cater for healthcare costs in the county than in the entire state of Florida (average of 98) and nationwide (average of 100).

The median home cost in Gadsden County, FL, is $120,700 is lower than the state's $294,400 and the national average of $291,900. These costs make housing more affordable (with an affordability score of 40.1) in the county.

Gretna Florida on a Map

Best Places to Buy a Home in Gadsden County, Florida

Thanks to the low taxes, good schools, and low crime rates, you may consider moving to Gadsden County, FL.

Cities and towns like Havana, Quincy, Midway, Chattahoochee, and Greensboro boast attractive real estate markets that you may want to consider.

Here's what each of these places offers:


Havana takes the first position for its low crime rates, affordable housing, good schools, and diverse population. As a town in Gadsden with a population of 1,886, it offers suburban vibes ideal for families.

Most residents in this town are homeowners and liberals. The town's median home value is $117,400, making it lower than the national average of $217,500.


You may be drawn to Quincy for its attractive real estate market, diversity, and appeal to families. The city has a population of 7,334 and boasts a rural feel. As a resident, you enjoy access to many parks and green scenery.

The median home value in Quincy is $77,100, making the homes more affordable. It indicates that you can get a home at a much lower price than in other parts of the country, whose average price is $217,500.


Midway is known for its low crime rates, affordable housing, and good schools.

The suburb suits families and young professionals since it boasts excellent weather conditions, a lucrative job market, and a diverse population.

You get to enjoy a mix of suburban and rural life when living in Midway, whose population is 3,221. The median home value in this suburb stands at $147,700, making it lower than the national average of $217,500.


Chattahoochee may be an excellent pick for you when looking for a town in Gadsden County, FL, with a diverse population, a lucrative housing market, and great attractions for families.

The town also boasts excellent weather conditions all year round, a good job market, and an affordable cost of living.

With a population of 3,113, Chattahoochee offers a rural feel for people who enjoy a quiet life. The median home value of $67,100 is way lower than the national average of $217,500, making homes in the town more affordable.


Greensboro is a town in Gadsden County, FL, with an affordable cost of living, low crime rates, and excellent schools. It's suited for families and young professionals thanks to the good job market, favorable weather conditions, and diverse population (which stands at 595).

You get to enjoy a rural feel in this town, which has a large percentage of homeowners. With a median price of $72,100 (the national average is $217,500), homes in Greensboro are very affordable.

Best Public and Private Schools in Gadsden County, Florida

Gadsden County, FL, has 20 public schools that serve 5,317 students as of 2022. It has a high percentage of top-ranked public schools in the entire state.

These schools include Havana Magnet School, Crossroad Academy, and Gadsden Elementary Magnet School, ranked based on their combined reading and math proficiency test scores.

Public schools in this county have an average reading proficiency score of 38 percent (the statewide average is 56 percent) and a math proficiency score of 47 percent (the statewide average is 59 percent). Their average ranking of 1/10 makes them rank in the bottom 50 percent of public schools in Florida.

Minority enrollment in public schools in Gadsden County, FL, is 97 percent (mostly black), making it more than the statewide average of 62 percent (primarily Hispanic).

With that said, here are the best five public schools in the county with their average math and reading proficiency test scores:

  • Gadsden Elementary Magnet School (Math: 80 to 84 percent while reading: 80 to 84 percent)
  • Crossroad Academy (a charter school with math proficiency of 61 percent and reading proficiency of 63 percent)
  • Havana Magnet School (a magnet school with a math proficiency of 71 percent and reading proficiency of 52 percent)
  • Greensboro Elementary School (math: 65 to 69 percent while reading: 40 to 44 percent)
  • Stewart Street Elementary School (math: 62 percent and reading: 42 percent)

Best Private Schools in Gadsden County, FL

Gadsden County, FL, had only 2 private schools, with a total enrollment of 765 as of 2022.

They have an average acceptance rate of 60 percent, which is lower than the statewide average acceptance rate of 86 percent.

The high-ranking private schools in this county include Tallavana Christian School and Robert F Munroe Day School.

Close to 50 percent of the private schools in Gadsden County have affiliations with religious institutions (majorly Christian). The best private schools in this county include the following:

  • Robert F Munroe Day School (admitting NS to Grade 12 students)
  • Tallavana Christian School (a Christian school that admits students in K to grade 12)
  • Victory Christian Academy
  • Cornerstone Learning Community

Is Gadsden County, Florida Suitable for Young Professionals or Families?

Gadsden County is a great place to live with its vibrant history, thriving arts culture, rolling hills, beautiful Victorian homes, and rolling hills.

It is home to a Coca-Cola plant, Planters Exchange, Dezell House, Shade Leaf Farms, and the John Lee McFarland House, which are great attractions to families and young professionals.

Towns and cities in Gadsden County have a timeless feel that makes them both old and new. The communities have preserved their heritage through architecture, hospitality, and a great sense of togetherness. You get to enjoy this county's tranquility, and hospitality thrived in Old Florida.

Gadsden County boasts neighborhoods with a beautiful environment characterized by many forests, state parks, rivers, and lakes. There are also countless opportunities if you enjoy kayaking, boating, angling, or bird watching.

The Destin Emerald Coast, Panama Beach, and the Gulf of Mexico are also a few hours away from the county. The Apalachicola National Forest, known for its rich and unique biodiversity, borders Gadsden to the south.

Gadsden County offers residents an affordable lifestyle with excellent emergency service and healthcare access.

There are also excellent public and private schools, attractions like Walt Disney World Resort, and hotspots on the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean lying nearby.

On a scale of 1 to 100, the county has a violent crime rate of 29.0 (compared to the national average of 22.7). The property crime rate stands at 44.3 (compared to the US average of 35.4).

Cities/Towns in Gadsden County, Florida that are Covered Under Hometown Heroes

Gadsden County is part of the Tallahassee, FL, Metropolitan Statistical Area. It boasts four cities, two towns, and lots of unincorporated areas.

All these places are covered under the Hometown Heroes program, meaning residents can enlist for funding.

The cities include Quincy, Midway, Gretna, and Chattahoochee, while the towns include Greensboro and Havana.

Unincorporated areas in the county include Dogtown, Hinson, Jamieson, Lake Tallavana, Mount Pleasant, Oak Grove, and Reston.

Other unincorporated areas include St. Hebron, St. John, Scotland, Scottown, and Wetumpka.

Final Thoughts

Community workers have, without a doubt, kept residents of Florida safe throughout the pandemic with their diligence and hard work.

With the median home price at more than $217,000, it's high time the state government does something to help these community workforce afford homes.

The Hometown Heroes Loan program aims to reduce the initial costs of buying a home for first-time, income-qualified homebuyers.

Provided that you are eligible, you can enjoy a low-interest first mortgage, down payment, and closing cost assistance as described in this guide.

With over 50 years of mortgage industry experience, we are here to help you achieve the American dream of owning a home. We strive to provide the best education before, during, and after you buy a home. Our advice is based on experience with Phil Ganz and Team closing over One billion dollars and helping countless families.

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