Beneficial Loan Programs for First Responders

Firefighters in front of fire trucks

Loan programs for first responders are meant to support our heroes.

Every community needs heroes. We need police officers to protect our communities, emergency personnel to responds to emergencies, and firefighters to protect the building and facilities we love.

Communities are motivated to bring these people into their towns and counties, and many have created real estate programs to entice people to settle in the area. By encouraging local homeownership by first responders, the entire community benefits.

Some of these programs are administered at the national level, while others come through the states. They can also come from small cities and towns. While these beneficial loan programs and financial assistance for first responders help the homebuyers, they also help improve the community at large.

Beneficial Loan Programs and Assistance for First Responders

HUD Good Neighbor Next Door Program

At the national level, first responders can take advantage of the Good Neighbor Next Door program, which has been created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and allows select individuals to purchase a home for as much as 50% off the purchase price.

This program is available to a variety of first responders, including police offices, EMTs, and firefighters, as well as teachers.

For this program, the home being purchased needs to be in a “revitalization area.” The homes are essentially placed in reserve and held by HUD, giving first responders primary access to the properties. By allowing these important professionals first-shot at the properties, there is a higher chance that a police officer, firefighter, or medical professional will move into the area.

But it’s not just access that matters for this program. It’s also pricing. As we mentioned above, homes placed in the Good Neighbor Next Door Program are available for prices as low as 50% of the listing price, which means first responders can get a wonderful deal on a comfortable home.

Homes in this program are only held for a week. After the week passes, the home goes into the open market and can be purchased by anyone.

There are a variety of different qualification requirements for this program, many of them related to the specifics of your employment. For example, the program generally requires you to serve the specific area where the home is located. If you are police officer, the home being purchased should be within your jurisdiction; if your home caught on fire, it must be your fire department that responds to the emergency. 

The home also needs to be in a “revitalization area,” as designated by HUD. To be a revitalization area, the home’s neighborhood will be analyzed for household income, rate of ownership, and foreclosure activity. If income is relatively low, ownership is rare, and foreclosures are more common than normal, it will likely be a revitalization area.

Golden State Finance Authority Downpayment Assistance

California flag and outline
The GSFA supports loan programs for first responders all across California.

The Golden State Finance Authority, commonly known as the “GSFA,” creates and issues programs that provide financing sources for the purchase of residential homes in California. They are also involved in assisting with refinances, as well as energy-efficiency improvements for both commercial and residential properties.

For over two decades, this important government organization has assisted over 76,000 individuals and families purchase homes, increasing homeownership all across the Golden State. In total, they have provided over $545 million in down payment assistance, and they have one program in particular that is extremely useful for first responders.

The GSFA administers a program called the “GSFA Platinum,” a program designed to help low- and moderate-income individuals generate a downpayment for their home purchase. The program provides financial assistance up to 5% of the purchase price and closing costs, and homebuyers do not have to be a first-time buyer to qualify. Also, it can be matched with many of the most common loans, including conventional and FHA loans.

For most applicants, however, the assistance provided through this program is a 0% loan, and it can be completely forgiven under certain situations. Yes, it comes with no interest, which can be a significant benefit, but it also is a loan and will require at least some repayment.

But if you are a first responder, it can be completely forgiven. In fact, it’s not even a loan that will need to be forgiven, but a gift. That’s right, if you are serving the community in a specific position, you can use this loan to fund your downpayment.

Qualifying positions for loan programs for first responders include police officers, firefighters, and certain teachers. Peace officers, sheriffs, border agents, and correctional officers are all eligible. Firefighters, CalFire personnel, EMTs, and paramedics can also use this program. Certain administrative support members can use the program as well.

Many Local Groups Support First Responders

While federal and state programs provide a wide array of services for qualifying first responder, there are numerous counties and cities that provide assistance and support as well. These municipalities know that having hard-working, community-focused professionals in their neighborhoods is important, creating a safer environment for everyone, and leading to greater pride in the general area.

For example, the city of Washington, D.C. provides support for a variety of borrowers, including loan programs for first responders. Through their Department of Housing and Community Development, the city provides up to $10,000 in downpayment assistance, which is available as a recoverable grant. To be eligible, first responders need to work in the position for five years, and they must maintain their property as a personal residence. (No rentals.) However, if these conditions are not met, the money simply convert from a grant to a zero-interest loan.

This is just one example of a local program administered by a city government. No matter where you live, talk with your lender to see if there is a specific program that would be right for you and your purchase.

Proudly Serving First Responders in San Diego and Across the Country!

We are proud to serve the men and women who serve our communities. Please contact us today and let us find the first responder program that will increase your chances of landing the perfect home!

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I hope you enjoyed reading this article. It's my goal to keep you updated with the latest real estate mortgage news. I'm proud to provide you with 100% original and unique content. Subscribe now to get high quality real estate mortgage content and articles delivered directly to your inbox. Chad Baker is Regional Manager for Cross Country Mortgage. Chad is consistently recognized in the top 1% of mortgage originators in the United States 2011-2019. Got a question for Chad? Call (858) 353-8331 or submit your question online