"Palmetto Heroes" get helping hand toward homeownership

Offering a helping hand to “everyday heroes” so they may achieve homeownership is the aim of the “Palmetto Heroes” program announced by the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority. Under the program, eligible “Palmetto Heroes” namely teachers, law enforcement officers, and persons in emergency services can get a 5.125 percent interest rate through the South Carolina Housing ‘s First-time Home Buyer Program. The $40 million initiative will also provide a down payment assistance loan of up to $7000 dollars. South Carolina Housing Executive Director Valerie Williams says the down payment assistance loan could even be forgivable over time, depending on the borrower’s income. Williams says everyday heroes give so much to others and they deserve a helping hand.
“This program is available to our teachers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters and first responders(meaning EMS workers) who are currently certified in their professions and reside and work in South Carolina or have a contract to begin working in the state within 60 days of closing.”
Mortgage loans can be up to 30 years and are available through any of the South Carolina Housing’s network of more than 200 private sector lenders and brokers statewide.  Williams says the program not only provides helping hand the everyday heroes across the state, it is an investment in the communities in which they live and work.

“We hope this will provide a recruitment incentive, and in some cases a retention incentive to enable them to work where they live. We not only commend these workers who are so vital to the future of our children and of our state, we are looking to invest in them by creating this program.”

South Carolina Housing is a self-supporting agency of state government and does not receive a state appropriation.
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Jim Rex pointed out that with the massive budgets cuts incurred by the state during the recession the morale of those in the teaching profession and public employees in general has taken a beating. Rex says he hopes the program serves to show that the work of these public servants are not unappreciated.

“I know that this $40 million will go pretty quickly. I think we have a whole bunch of people out there that need this kind of help to realize the dream of homeownership. Hopefully it will serve to have am impact on the morale and productivity of the people that work so tirelessly for all of us and whose efforts often times go unnoticed.”

Representing the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association, Richland County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Harry Stubblefield says the program will be especially important for young law enforcement officers.
“Often times young officers in particular, have a very difficult time in achieving the goal of homeownership. Providing a low-interest loan coupled with the opportunity to get assistance with the down payment and the possible help from the South Carolina realtors organization with some of the incidentals that go along with buying a new home there is a tremendous opportunity for young officers and public safety responders that they have not had in the past.”
The program includes a $75,000 grant from South Carolina Association of Realtors to help each of the first 300 participants in the program with incidentals associated with purchasing a home. Nick Kremydas, CEO of SC Realtors, says far too often many public servants can’t find affordable housing in the communities that they serve. “Too often those who serve our communities can’t live in those communities. Whether its because of point of sale tax assessments, impact fees, or insurance costs, often times in high growth areas it is very difficult for those who serve our communities to be alble to live close to them.”