Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program

The Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program helps Floridians in over 50 critical professions purchase their first home and is available to Floridians including law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees, and active military or veterans.

The program is administered by the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) and has the highest and most inclusive eligibility of all Florida Housing down payment assistance programs. The program is geared to expanding on Florida’s existing housing programs to reach critical workers and those who have served our country. Find more about the program here.

This program aids essential community workers in 50 different eligible professions with down payment and closing cost assistance to help first-time, income-qualified homebuyers purchase a primary residence in the communities they serve.

To qualify for this program, homebuyers must connect with a participating loan officer, have a minimum credit score of 640, provide certification for one of the eligible occupations, and meet the income threshold for their county. Eligible borrowers will receive up to 5% of the first mortgage loan amount (up to a maximum of $25,000) in down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a 0%, non-amortizing, 30-year deferred second mortgage.

For more information on how this program impacts veterans, their families and survivors, please visit www.floridahousing.org/hometownheroes.

Property Tax Exemption

Any real estate owned and used as a homestead by a veteran who was honorably discharged and has been certified as having a service-connected, permanent and total disability, is exempt from taxation of the veteran is a permanent resident of Florida and has legal title to the property on January 1 of the tax year for which exemption is being claimed. (FS 196.081(1))

Any real estate owned and used as a homestead by the surviving spouse of a member of the Armed Forces who died from service-connected causes while on active duty is exempt from taxation if the member was a permanent resident of this state on January 1 of the year in which the member died. (FS 196.081(4)(a))

If, upon the death of the veteran, the spouse holds the legal or beneficial title to the homestead and permanently resides there, the exemption from taxation carries over to the benefit of the veteran’s spouse until such time as he or she remarries, sells, or otherwise disposes of the property. If the spouse sells the property, an exemption not to exceed the amount granted from the most recent ad valorem tax roll may be transferred to the new residence as long as it is used the primary residence and the spouse does not remarry.  (FS 196.081(3))

Any real estate used and owned as a homestead by any quadriplegic is exempt from taxation. Veterans who are paraplegic, hemiplegic, or permanently and totally disabled who must use a wheelchair for mobility, or are legally blind, may be exempt from real estate taxation. Check with your local property appraiser to determine if gross annual household income qualifies. The veteran must be a resident of Florida. (FS 196.101)

Eligible resident veterans with a VA certified service-connected disability of 10 percent or greater shall be entitled to a $5,000 property tax exemption. The veteran must establish this exemption with the county tax official in the county in which he or she resides by providing documentation of this disability.

The unremarried surviving spouse of a disabled ex-servicemember, who on the date of the disabled ex-servicemember’s death had been married to the ex-servicemember, is also entitled to this exemption. (FS 196.24)

Any partially disabled veteran who is age 65 or older, any portion of whose disability was combat-related, and who was honorably discharged, may be eligible for a discount from the amount of ad valorem tax on the homestead commensurate with the percentage of the veteran’s permanent service-connected disability. Eligible veterans should apply for this benefit at the county property appraiser’s office. (FS 196.082) Amendment 6, which helps spouses of older combat veterans with service connected disabilities retain their earned property tax discount upon the passing of the veteran, has passed with nearly 90 percent of the vote. More than nine million voters approved the state constitutional amendment in November 2020, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.

Service members entitled to the homestead exemption in this state, and who are unable to file in person by reason of such service, may file through next of kin or a duly authorized representative. (FS 196.071)

Home Loans

G.I. Home Loan Guarantee – The VA may guarantee part of your loan for the purchase of a home, manufactured home, or condominium. In addition, veterans with conventional home loans now have options for refinancing to a VA guaranteed home loan as a result of the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008. For information, call the VA Home Loans Guaranty Services at (888) 244-6711 or visit www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS.