New Yorkers earning up to 80% of the city’s median income can qualify for up to $100,000 for a down payment or closing on their first home.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced the expansion of the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program from its original $40,000 up to $100,000, saying the expansion helped achieve 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.

HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll said the major expansion was 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.”

“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,” Carroll said.

Under the program, the City said it 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. 

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% of the Area Median Income, or $86,000 for a family of three.

Bed-Stuy Councilmember Robert Cornegy said as the chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, he was delighted with the new source of funding. “In minority communities, one of the only ways to build and transfer wealth is through the accumulation of equity in properties,” he said.

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 administers the program on the City’s behalf, and it is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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  1. Free money?!? Exactly how, if they need free taxpayer money can we expect these “homeowners” to pay for their ensuing mortgage?

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