HPD Announces Major Expansion of "HomeFirst" Down payment Assistance Program For First-Time Homebuyers

October 4, 2021

Press Officehpdmedia@hpd.nyc.gov  

Achieving a key goal of City’s Where We Live NYC fair housing plan to empower low-income New Yorkers with more housing opportunities in well-resourced neighborhoods, the expansion more than doubles the amount of financial support available for first-time homebuyers 

NEW YORK—The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) today announced that the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program will offer up to $100,000 to support qualified first-time homebuyers purchasing a home in New York City. The expansion more than doubles the amount of financial assistance available for first-time homebuyers and achieves a key goal of City’s Where We Live NYC fair housing plan to empower low-income New Yorkers with more housing opportunities in well-resourced neighborhoods.

Under the enhanced program, which takes effect today, the City aims to grow the number of homes affordable to low-income, first-time homebuyers, particularly in neighborhoods where housing prices place ownership out of the reach of low-income families.

“For too long, there’s been unequal access to homeownership, the largest wealth creator in this country,” said Vicki Been, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. “This critical expansion of “HomeFirst” will serve to make New Yorkers more economically secure, our neighborhoods more stable, and a recovery for all of us more certain.”

“This major expansion of down-payment support is a big win for equity and diversity as it tackles one of the biggest barriers to homeownership for low-income families and families of color,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “Positioning more families to own a home, build wealth for their kids, and take ownership of their communities is a key strategy for achieving our vision of a more equitable New York City.”

“In minority communities, one of the only ways to build and transfer wealth is through the accumulation of equity in properties,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “As Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, I am delighted at this new source of funding. We can come up with creative ways to support new homeowners, so HPD deserves praise for this new resource.”

HomeFirst offers financial assistance towards the down payment or closing costs of a home for first-time homebuyers of one-to-four-family homes in the five boroughs. Eligible applicants can earn up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income, or $86,000 for a family of three. HomeFirst participants must complete a homebuyer education course, contribute savings to the purchase, and live in their home for up to 15 years to receive the full benefits of loan forgiveness through the program. The Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City (NHS) administers the program on the City’s behalf, and it is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“More than 80% of NHSNYC clients represent BIPOC communities,” said Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC, Inc. CEO Derrick Griggs. “The increase in available funds addresses the most significant obstacle faced by our clients when seeking to become homeowners. NHSNYC is excited to continue administering this program with HPD.”  

“Having the savings required for a down payment in NYC is a significant barrier to homeownership among low- and moderate-income homebuyers. This expansion of HomeFirst will supercharge the prospects of homeownership for an entire generation of New Yorkers and will have an even larger impact on Black and Brown communities that have for too long been shut out of homeownership opportunities,” said Christie Peale, CEO at the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, which promotes affordable homeownership. “We applaud the City for this announcement, which supports its dedication to ensuring that more New Yorkers can afford to invest in their communities and build intergenerational wealth.”

“The HomeFirst program enhancement is a game changer for so many deserving low-to-moderate-income first time homebuyers seeking to purchase their first homes in the ultra-competitive New York City real estate market,” said Emily McIntosh, Director of Homeownership Education at NYC Housing Partnership. “The enhanced level assistance will further reduce the barriers to homeownership such as high student loan debt, limited purchasing power and overall housing affordability. NYC Housing Partnership is excited to leverage the HomeFirst program in connection with NHSNYC and HPD.”

“We applaud the city’s decision to increase the amount of support available through the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program,” said Jennifer Sun and Thomas Yu, co-executive directors of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). “AAFE is not only a longtime approved agency for facilitating the program, but we were a community partner in the Where We Live initiative. Time and again, we have heard from our low to moderate income community members about the extreme difficulty in purchasing a home anywhere in New York City. This expansion will help create more diverse and equitable neighborhoods.”

Increasing homeownership opportunities for New Yorkers is a key goal of Mayor de Blasio’s YOUR Home NYC plan to help New Yorkers get, afford, and keep their homes. In addition to building more affordable housing, the City is advancing fair housing by working to ensure broader access to quality, affordable housing in a variety of thriving neighborhoods.

Since the program’s launch in 2004, HomeFirst has helped more than 3,000 households become homeowners throughout the five boroughs. For more information regarding the HomeFirst program, including how prospective home buyers can apply, go to HPD’s website nyc.gov/homefirst.