Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Tampa expands down payment assistance program to address yawning housing affordability

City raises the maximum purchase price of homes for those who qualify in effort to help homebuyers.

  • News
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
  • Share

As home prices continue to skyrocket in Tampa, the city is expanding a first-time buyers assistance program to help get more people into homes.

On Monday, the city announced it has increased the maximum purchase price for qualified buyers in its Dare to Own the Dream program by $60,000 to $300,000. This, the city says, will give buyers a little bit more room as they navigate what Zillow calls the hottest housing market in the country to buy a home in the city.

The Dare to Own the Dream program provides forgivable down payment assistance loans to home buyers who are eligible. The program, according to the city, handed out more than $1.1 million to first time home buyers in fiscal 2021. Those who apply for the down payment assistance must be income eligible to qualify and then must live in the home for at least 10 years to get the loan forgiven.

Speaking at a morning news conference Monday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says the city considered increasing the maximum home price by more but was capped by state law, which allows a maximum home value for programs like this at $311,000.

Castor say programs like Dare to Own the Dream are vital tools as the city tries to balance rapid growth and the influx of people in need of housing with affordability.

She says rising housing prices is one of the most critical issues facing her administration and calls it a growing pain caused by the number of businesses and people moving to Tampa.

According to Zillow, the average home price in city is $323,000. But the company predicts the demand created by a shortfall in housing inventory will cause home values to rise 24.6% through November, about 10 percentage points higher than the 14.3% home value growth expected nationally.

That worries Castor. “We are a very diverse community. That is what defines the city of Tampa, is the way that we embrace that diversity, … and these rising housing prices are going to start to push people out of our community and we cannot afford for that to happen,” she says.

“Everyone should be able to live in the neighborhood that they want to in the city of Tampa.”

In addition to increasing the maximum home price, the recently set aside $1 million for the program. This was done to reach families at 80% to 140% of the average median income. Those with income up to 50% AMI will now qualify for loans up to $40,000. Previously they would have qualified for a maximum of $30,000.

For now, Castor is happy inroads are being made but says much work remains.

“As I have stated several times, if the need for housing would remain constant for a couple of minutes, we may be able to catch up,” Castor says.


Related Articles

  • October 10, 2014
Lehigh returns