CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spent part of the first day of the legislature's special session speaking in Cape Coral, where he announced a $100 million assistance program to help those who work in certain public sectors afford housing.
Speaking from Cape Coral police headquarters Monday, DeSantis launched the "Hometown Heroes" program, which will provide down payment and closing cost assistance for first-time homebuyers who are:
- veterans, active-duty military and surviving spouses
- law enforcement
- child care operators/daycare instructors
- paramedics, EMTs, 911 operators, firefighters
- registered nurses, home health aides, practitioners
- correctional officers, probation officers
Eligible homebuyers will be able to get 5%, up to $25,000 of their mortgage loan amount.
The program begins June 1; applications will be available through lenders.
Thomas Felke, Associate Professor of Social Work at Florida Gulf Coast University says Southwest Florida’s working class is made up of many more professions, like construction and retail that don’t make the list.
"So, you’re still going to have a lot of issues with this and again, this is for individuals looking to purchase, it’s going to help with their down payment on their home, it’s going to help with mortgage fees," Felke said.
While Felke acknowledges this can help some people here reach homeownership, "I just would have liked to have seen that list of 50 professions be thought through a little bit better in terms of what is actually needed, particularly here in Southwest Florida, again this is a state wide piece, but here in southwest Florida I’m not sure how many individuals this is going to assist," Felke said.
DeSantis was joined by Trey Price, Florida Housing Finance Corporation Director, as well as Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno was also in attendance.
DeSantis also briefly spoke about his hope for a successful special session.
Monday begins the state lawmakers' look at possible bills to tackle the issue of soaring insurance costs in the state.
Two big bills on the docket cover reforms GOP members say balance "costs and protections for consumers" and "add reasonable guardrails" for insurers to protect them from frivolous claims.