The recent launch of the Homebuyer Assistance Program (HBA) entails for Puerto Rico one of the herculean efforts made by the Department of Housing to reduce the growing stock of vacant homes after hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall; and to reduce the inventory of foreclosed properties on the Island.

The impact on Puerto Rico’s real estate market promoted by the Department of Housing in conjunction with the Housing Finance Authority (PRHFA) is based on the offer of the Homebuyer Assistance Program, which will inject into the local mortgage sector $350 million in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds for the purpose of increasing the opportunities for thousands of Puerto Ricans under the low- or moderateincome category to buy a home for the first time.

Among the eligible applicants or households, the HBA Program will improve homeownership opportunity assistance funds to cover closing costs and down payments required for the first mortgage obtained from a private lender. This program will provide grants of up to $25,000 to eligible low- and moderate-income applicants and up to $35,000 to eligible low- and moderate-income and urgent need households for households with Critical Recovery Workforce (CRW) members.

The Program recognizes that CRW members are instrumental in incentivizing the return of individuals who left the Island and demand guarantees for community viability. In these critical sectors, sufficient workforce is vital in creating positive ripple effects across communities, as they provide public safety, emergency support, education for school-age children, and healthcare for families in communities working to recover and rebuild. Since its launch, the Program has prioritized CRW households. This priority treatment will extend for the first fortyfive (45) calendar days from of the application intake period, ending on August 31, 2020.

HBA addresses issues magnified in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, which caused outmigration and significantly decreased homeownership rates. The financial stability and resources available for residents to purchase their own homes are also important parameters related to an individual or family’s ability to buy a home. The Program helps Puerto Rico residents buy a home, thereby increasing the level of homeownership in impacted communities and contributing to long-term sustainability and viability of communities across the Island.

For lending institutions on the Island, HBA means the possibility of increasing orientation activities for residents who seek to buy a home, moved by the financial assistance provided by the Program and, consequently, the potential increase in mortgage applications among citizens. Also, for real estate brokers, HBA provides a unique opportunity to promote the acquisition of foreclosed properties that would otherwise remain vacant.

The recovery effort organized by the Department of Housing through HBA will contribute to the long-term sustainability and viability of communities across the Island, increase the level of homeownership, incentivize the CRW to continue residing in communities, and improve the opportunities of homeownership for low-to-moderate income and urgent needs households in Puerto Rico; and support the sustainability and economic viability of communities, increasing the level of homeownership across the Island.

Increases in long-term homeowner residents will contribute to additional positive ripple effects in communities. Furthermore, supporting critical recovery workforce personnel in homeownership will further incentivize the return or maintenance of a greater population base.

Interested applicants may apply for the Homebuyer Assistance Program through the participating lending institutions that continue to exponentially join in the Program’s efforts. To see the current list of lending institutions, visit www.cdbg-dr.pr.gov and access the Homebuyer Assistance Program section, where the list of participating lending institutions is regularly updated. For questions, the Department of Housing and PRHFA have designated the email address HBA-info@afv.pr.gov and telephone number 1 (833) 234-2324.