Helping Local Residents Realize the Dream of Home Ownership: Orange County Down Payment Assistance Program

Community & Services

In 2006, Casey Moran was a single woman making $40,000/year in Orlando. She was working for a large construction company in its IT department. Barely able to make ends meet with expensive rent, Moran was forced to have roommates. Given the cost of housing and her financial situation, the thought of owning her own home was nothing more than a pipe dream.

“At the beginning of 2008, I had a decision to make,” said Moran, Director of IT Support Services, Skanska. “My lease was up in April, and I either needed to renew it for an additional year or buy a home and finally start investing my money into something instead of paying rent.”

Moran spoke to a realtor, and they ran numbers with a mortgage company to determine what she could afford every month (including escrow and utilities). Based on that number, Moran was not optimistic, but she eventually found a place she liked — a 2-bedroom/2-bathroom home (duplex) with a 1-car garage and a fenced in backyard that was move-in ready. The problem: she had no money for a down payment.

“In order for me to be able to purchase at the price I could afford, I needed a down payment to lower the amount I needed to finance,” she said. “That’s when my realtor advised me about the Orange County Down Payment Assistance Program, as my salary level would qualify me to participate.”

Moran signed up for the program, attended the mandatory home buyer workshops, filled out the application and was eventually approved for a $20,000 down payment loan. The loan allowed her to purchase the home she liked and finally fulfill her desire to become a homeowner. Over the years, she has continuously paid more toward the principle on her mortgage, which she paid off completely on March 18, 2022.

The Down Payment Assistance Program aids qualified first time homebuyers for down payment and closing costs associated with purchasing a home. The amount of assistance provided is determined based on household income and size — $45,000 for eligible very low-income buyers, $35,000 for low-income buyers, or $20,000 for eligible moderate-income buyers. All applicants must complete a pre-purchase homebuyer’s education program and secure a first mortgage.

“When a person is able to purchase a home, they’re setting up their entire family for economic improvement,” said Dorenda Christian, Program Manager, Housing and Community Development Division. “Affordable housing is a big issue, but we have available funds and are wholeheartedly inviting people to consider home ownership and apply for assistance. Take advantage of the help we can provide.”

Moran agrees wholeheartedly. “I encourage anyone who believes they cannot afford to own a home to look into this program,” she asserted. “Work with a realtor and a mortgage company to determine what you can afford, and you may be surprised at what the future holds. Take advantage of the help. Without this program, I wouldn’t be a homeowner today.”

For more information and details about the Orange County Down Payment Assistance Program, including how to apply, go to the program webpage or contact the Housing and Community Development Division at 407-836-5150.

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