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Hometown Heroes Loan Program: Learn How to Get up to a $25,000 Grant in Levy County, Florida

The Florida Housing and Finance Corporation, also known simply as the Florida Housing Corporation, assists Floridians in achieving budget-friendly homeownership or rental housing. It is a non-profit body founded by the Florida Legislature more than four decades ago to assist Floridians in achieving their dream of owning a home.

The corporation's Hometown Heroes Loan Program provides teachers, law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, military service members, vets, firefighters, and other emergency service professionals with lower-cost first mortgage options and closing fees, and down payment assistance.

The loan program is available across the state, including in Levy County. Governor Ron DeSantis announced a few weeks ago and will be open for applications beginning this June, coinciding with the National Homeownership Celebration.

Who is eligible?

The Florida Hometown Heroes Loan Program provides down payment aid and 30-year fixed-rate loans to individuals in the following frontline job areas:

  • Professional educators, including school teachers, teaching assistants, school counselors, school nurses, and school librarians serving full-time in the state's school districts

  • Law enforcement officers, including cops, correction officers, public security officers, and juvenile corrections officers

  • Firefighters and emergency service personnel
  • Active military service members or veterans
  • Nursing and related health professionals
  • Veterinarians

Families making below 150 percent of the county median income are eligible for this loan program. That works out to a $118,950.00 income cap for Levy County. Except for military veterans, all applicants must be employed full-time and in a capacity that needs their certification or license.

What are the qualification requirements?

Eligible first-time homebuyers must meet certain conditions and connect with authorized loan officers to apply for this loan program. These prerequisites are as follows:

Must be a first-time home buyer

The Hometown Heroes housing financing program is intended to assist frontline workers in acquiring homes in the communities they serve. Applicants must not have held or owned title to a home in the previous three years. This means that the program primarily serves first-time homebuyers.

Meet the county's income threshold

Income limits apply to the Hometown Heroes housing financing program. This loan program only considers 1003 or credit-qualifying income. Only families earning less than 150 percent of the county's median income ($118,950.00) are evaluated.

FICO score of at least 640

All program participants must have at least a 640 FICO score. Applicants with scores of at least 680 may be eligible with back-end debt-to-income of up to 50%, based on Automated Underwriting guidelines. For persons with scores in the 640-679 range, the back-end debt-to-equity calculation must not exceed 45 percent.

Supporting documentation

Additionally, program participants must have the following documentation to demonstrate occupational eligibility:

  • A copy of your Florida occupation license or certification
  • Copy of signed, Final form 1003
  • Copy of VOE
  • Three years of Federal Tax Returns

  • Pay stubs demonstrating continuous employment for the past two years (not necessarily with the same employer)

  • Non-citizens must present proof verifying their citizenship and Florida residence. They must also follow specified lending agency criteria (FHA, RD, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac).

  • Copy of the completed Florida Hometown Heroes Borrower Attestation Document

Active-duty personnel must also produce Form 1003 and a military ID copy. Military Eligibility Papers are not necessary. However, military members must also be first-time homeowners or risk being disqualified.

On the other hand, military vets are exempt from first-time homebuyers if they hold a valid DD-214 and an honorable discharge status. Military Eligibility Certificates aren't needed.

Surviving spouses of military vets will qualify for the VA first mortgage only if they present an authentic certificate of eligibility.

Complete an approved homebuyer education

Before buying a home, those who qualify must complete a homebuyer education course approved by the program, either online or in person. The education must meet the objectives of the National Industry or Housing and Urban Development for homeowner counseling and education. Education following the closure is not permitted.

Homebuyer education supplied by a mortgage insurer is permitted if it fulfills National Industry or Housing and Urban Development (HUD) criteria.

Certificates of completion remain valid for two years after they are awarded.

What income is used in the loan calculation?

Income 1003 refers to the income considered in Fannie Mae Form 1003 loan underwriting. In the loan calculations, only 1003 or credit-qualifying income is considered. Household income is not considered.

What kind of assistance is offered if you qualify?

The Florida Hometown Heroes initiative was created to help frontline workers afford homes in the neighborhoods they serve. Applicants who qualify may be able to get lower-than-market interest rates on their first mortgage.

Available first mortgage options include:

  • 30-year fixed-rate government-sponsored first mortgage program for heroes - Lending enterprises include the FHA, USDA-RD, and the VA

  • The Fannie Mae HFA Preferred Program for Heroes - a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage program with reduced-cost private mortgage insurance for borrowers with AMI below 80% AMI

  • The Freddie Mac HFA Advantage Heroes for TBA - a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with cheaper private mortgage insurance for borrowers with AMI below 80%

Furthermore, those who qualify for those mentioned above, low-interest first-mortgage alternatives will also receive a zero-interest, 30-year deferred, non-amortizing second mortgage of up to 5 percent of the first mortgage (capped at $25K) towards the closing cost and down payment. If the first mortgage is refinanced, the home is rented, sold, or the deed is transferred, the second mortgage becomes fully due.

Other advantages include cheaper upfront costs and removed origination fees or discount points.

What are the home price limits for this loan program?

The Florida hometown heroes loan scheme has home price caps. For VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac programs, the negotiated home price must be below $647,200.00. For the FHA and USDA-RD loans, the home price limit is $420,680.00.

Here is an overview of the Levy County Hometown Heroes loan program income and negotiated home price limits.

  • 2022 Hometown Heroes Income Limits - $118,950.00
  • 2022 Hometown Heroes Loan Limits (FHA & USDA-RD) - $420,680.00
  • 2022 Hometown Heroes Loan Limits (HFA Preferred, HFA Advantage and VA) - $647,200.00

Are there cash refunds?

With this financing arrangement, there will be no cash reimbursements at closing; unless any residual funds are from gift funds, they will be utilized to pay down an individual's first mortgage.

You can use gift funds for closing costs, down payment, debt repayment, reserve building, or other functions that the loan programs permit. Because this money is not from the loan borrower, any extra can be returned to the borrower without being branded as "cash back." When requesting gift card refunds, borrowers must fill out a specific form and follow the Florida Housing agency procedures.

Are co-signers allowed?

Co-signers are only accepted for the Fannie Mae and FHA first mortgage options. They will not, however, be included in the house deed. They also don't need to complete a homebuyer education course.

Because these two schemes require credit income for mortgage qualification, a co-signer's income might be factored into the loan computations.

However, a co-signer's income may disqualify a borrower from the low-cost mortgage insurance advantage provided by Fannie Mae to borrowers with AMI below 80%.

What is the program's loan delivery timeline?

After reservation, all Hometown Heroes' first and second mortgage loan options must adhere to a 60-day delivery deadline. Any loans obtained after this date may incur repricing fees and penalties for delayed purchase. These charges will be taken from the issuer's SRP at purchase.

All loans that will not have been acquired or delivered by the due date may be canceled and re-reserved.

The timeline for the loan delivery is determined by the date the loan is reserved in the eHousing eHPortal.

To book funds in the scheme, one must have a signed house purchase agreement for a specific location and form 1003. If the loan reservation goes well, you'll get a message with your loan number and confirmation that your request has been accepted.

Devils Den Recreational Area With Large Creek and Gazebo in Williston Florida

How do you apply for the program in Levy County?

If you work in the frontline, as mentioned above, and meet the county's income limits and purchase price caps, get connected with an approved loan specialist, and start the application process for the Hometown Heroes housing financing options. You'll answer a few questions, and they'll walk you through the steps.

If you get approved, FL Housing Corporation will provide you with a lower-interest first mortgage loan option and financing for your closing costs and down payment.

You can receive closing cost and down payment help in the form of a second zero-rate, a non-amortizing mortgage with a 30-year deferral period. If you refinance the first mortgage, rent, or sell your home, this second mortgage will become fully due.

Is the program available across all communities in Levy County, Florida?

Yes, the Florida hometown heroes loan program is available throughout the county so frontline workers can afford homes in the areas they serve.

Levy county is divided into 6 cities, 2 towns, and several unincorporated and ghost communities. According to, the cost-of-living levy county has an index of 82.1 compared to the entire state's 102.8. This means Levy County is significantly cheaper than the rest of Florida. According to the living wage calculator, the hourly rate that one must earn to support themselves and their family is $14.55 (1 adult), $28.94 (1 adult and 1 child), $22.86 (2 adults; 1 working), $28.25 (2 adults; 1 working, 1 child).

The county is cheaper for groceries, transportation, housing, and miscellaneous costs. The median home cost is $154,600 compared to the entire state's $294,900.

Some of the best areas to live in the county


  • Median list price - $297,150
  • Popular neighborhoods - Mill Pond, Sugarfoot, Kirkwood, South Black Acres, Sugarhill, Phoenix, Woodland Park, South Main, Bartram Woods, Golfview
  • Top public schools - Williston Elementary School, Whispering Winds Charter School, Williston Middle High School, Nature Coast Middle School

Cedar Key

  • Median list price - $725,000
  • Popular neighborhoods - 34429, 34428, 32626, 32639, 34498, 32648
  • Top public schools - Whispering Winds Charter School, Cedar Key High School, Nature Coast Middle School


  • Median list price - $397,500K
  • Popular neighborhoods - Gainesville, 32608, Dunnellon
  • Top public schools - Chiefland Elementary School, Whispering Winds Charter School, Chiefland Middle High School, Bronson Middle/High School

Williston Highlands

  • Median list price - $273, 000
  • Popular neighborhoods - Mill Pond, Phoenix, Kirkwood, Black Acres, Sugarfoot, Landmark Woods, Golfview
  • Top public schools - Yankeetown School: Chiefland Elementary School, Joyce M. Bullock Elementary School

What homes can you purchase with this program?

You can use hometown hero funds to buy new or refurbished houses, multi-family or single-family homes, program-approved condos, villas, and manufactured homes. But you will need a FICO score above 680 if you are looking to buy a manufactured home.

However, you may only use hometown heroes funds to purchase a primary residence; you cannot use it to acquire vacation or second homes.

What if you aren't a first-time home buyer?

If this is not your first time buying a home, but you are buying in one in a federally specified area or are an eligible veteran, you might qualify for the program funds.

Are you a first-time homebuyer?

Additionally, if you are a first-time homebuyer, you can seek a Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCC) to reduce your mortgage expense.

When you take out a mortgage, you will have to return the principal and the interest, too. But with an MCC, you can reclaim part of the interest you paid. The interest rate is the bank's fee for lending you the funds. It's an IRS tax credit that allows you to claim up to $2000 on the loan interest you paid on your home. To qualify for one, you will have to meet specific income standards, and the negotiated home price must fall within specific ranges.

An MCC application does not require a perfect credit score. Indeed, Florida has a simple application process and accepts credit ratings as low as 640. Every year, you can claim mortgage credit certificates by completing the Mortgage Interest Credit: IRS 8396 form.

There is a $250,000 home buying price ceiling. However, not everyone who applies for an MCC is granted one. Consequently, if you live in a high-income neighborhood, you may not be eligible.

Ready to begin your Hometown Heroes loan program application?

If you are an income-qualified first-time buyer, you need to contact a participating loan officer to apply for the Hometown Heroes funding options. The lender will assist you in completing the application. You will not send any documents to FL Housing Corporation directly.

Before closing on your house, you must also undertake an accredited home buyer education course.


Frontline workers in Levy County are welcome to apply for the hometown heroes loan program. This year, the program was launched and is administered by the Florida housing corporation and footed by Florida taxpayers. The program offers cheaper first mortgage options, closing costs, down payment aid, and reduced upfront costs.

When launching the program, the governor stated that the state valued the contributions of its teachers, police officers, firefighters, and nurses. He described these individuals as hometown heroes and the backbone of the community. He said that assisting them to afford homes in the neighborhoods they serve is one way to thank them and contribute to the overall success of the American Dream.

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