Housing program to help frontline workers buy a house expands

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — An annual program to help frontline workers buy their first home is getting a big boost this year.

As part of the ‘Palmetto Heroes Project,’ $50 million was allocated to help several hundred frontline workers achieve homeownership.

Buyers who qualify could get up to $12,000 in down payment assistance and a 2.75% interest rate. Chris Winston, the spokesman for SC Housing, tells News13 while interest rates are at an all-time low, the increased allocation to the program is in part because the cost of homes is on the rise in South Carolina.

Frontline workers who could qualify include teachers, EMS personnel, licensed medical professionals, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, active and retired military members, and National Guard members.

There are a few other eligibility requirements as well. 

“There is an income requirement which changes depending on household size and what county you live in,” Winston said. “We are looking for people with great jobs who would be able to pay their monthly mortgage payments, but maybe not been able to set aside enough money for a down payment or for closing costs.”

Winston added the house must cost less than $300,000 and it must be going to a first-time home buyer; something Winston says has a different definition based on where you live.

“In twelve of the larger counties, that means you haven’t owned a home in the last three years,” he explained. “In many of the other counties, in the other 34 counties in the state, it just means you can’t own a home at the time you purchase this one.”

Florence loan officer Terry Mussman said this program can help people buy a home that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to.

“Last year I helped a paramedic EMT get into a home,” Mussman said. “First-time buyer, didn’t have the money for a down payment, but I was able to walk him through to help him and his wife and two sons get into a home they probably would have never been able to afford in having to save up for a down payment.”

The applications opened this week, and the program is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information about the Palmetto Heroes Program, click here.

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