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City of New Orleans Invests $1 Million in First Responders Homeownership Program to Bridge Affordability Gap

NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the Mayor’s Office of Housing Policy and Community Development (OCD) held an informational session on Tuesday, Sept. 12 to officially launch the City of New Orleans’ First Responders Homeownership Program. The Cantrell Administration will invest $1 million, utilizing Neighborhood Housing Investment Fund (NHIF) dollars, to bridge the affordability gap between rising home prices and the maximum amount a homebuyer can borrow for a first mortgage. It was also developed to encourage the retention of public safety employees.

“With the public safety challenges we have faced as a city, we have seen how important it is to think proactively and to continue to invest in our public safety workforce,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “As first responders, they are everyone’s neighbors who continue to go above and beyond to provide prompt and professional services for those in need. This homeownership program is yet another tool in the toolbox to not only aid in recruitment and retention but to also encourage community investment through homeownership, as this is what ultimately builds generational wealth for families. This administration remains committed to identifying more innovative methods to increase housing access, while also prioritizing and investing in the needs of those who protect and serve us every single day.”

Public safety personnel of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), New Orleans Emergency Medical Services (NOEMS) and New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) were invited to attend the informational session to learn about program guidelines and income limits and to meet with City-approved lenders on site. This initiative will allow OCD to provide down payment assistance in the form of an interest-free forgivable loan, or soft second, to eligible applicants. The soft second loan cannot exceed $35,000 for down payment assistance and/or closing costs. The exact loan amount a homebuyer will be eligible to receive will depend upon the homebuyer’s household income, family size and need.

“The Office of Community Development is elated to announce the down payment assistance program for our city’s first responders,” said OCD Director Tyra Johnson Brown. “With this unprecedented $1 million allocation, made possible by Mayor Cantrell’s leadership, OCD is committed to assisting our police officers, paramedics, firefighters and other public safety officials in closing the gap for prospective buyers interested in homeownership. We are excited to help bring this program to fruition and continue identifying even more innovative methods to increase housing access and affordability for all residents, including those who make a meaningful impact on the people we serve daily.”

Program Guidelines

  • Applicant must demonstrate continued employment as a first responder for at least three years
  • Approved loans are subject to penalties and other claw-back provisions if the applicant leaves the profession within three years of purchase of the property
  • Meet the income guidelines established for the program (listed below)
  • Must attend a HUD-approved housing counseling course
  • Qualify for a first mortgage with a City-approved lender that will determine eligibility for the City’s forgivable second mortgage
  • Agree to occupy the property (a single-family dwelling) as the principal residence for a minimum of 10 years
  • The property must be located in Orleans Parish
  • The selected house must meet the minimum housing quality standards
  • Maintain flood and homeowner’s insurance in the amount required by the mortgage lender and the homebuyer program

Income Limits

The maximum income requirement is 140 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). See examples of loan amounts below:

  • $80,360, one-person household
  • $91,840, two-person household
  • $103,320, three-person household
  • $114,800, four-person household
  • $124,040, five-person household
  • $133,280, six-person household
  • $142,380, seven-person household
  • $151,620, eight-person household


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