To qualify for the Suffolk County Down Payment Assistance Program...

To qualify for the Suffolk County Down Payment Assistance Program first-time homebuyers must meet income requirements and commit to staying in their new home for at least 10 years. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

First-time homebuyers in Suffolk County can apply for $30,000 to help with their down payment if they commit to living there for at least 10 years, officials said Thursday.

The amount is more than double the previous assistance offered of $14,000, with a five-year commitment, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Officials said they doubled the amount partly because of rising housing costs in the county.

They expect as many as 20 families to benefit from the program this round.

Bellone, speaking at a news conference in Hauppauge, described the Suffolk County Down Payment Assistance Program as vital to helping people obtain the “American dream” of homeownership.

“Sadly for many the promise remains elusive,” he said, calling homeownership a “gateway to upper mobility and the belief that hard work will be met with ample benefits.”

Money for the program is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Residents of the towns of Smithtown, Huntington and the five towns on the East End are eligible for the county program. The Towns of Islip, Babylon and Brookhaven run their own programs.

People who qualify must have low to moderate household incomes, with a minimum of $40,000 a year. Maximum incomes are set according to HUD guidelines. Existing homes being purchased must cost $532,000 or less. New homes must cost $555,000 or less.

People who qualify for the program must pay the remaining amount of the down payment and closing costs.

The program was launched in 1993, Bellone said.

Suffolk County Legis. Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon), minority leader of the legislature, said he knows of one family that was renting a home for nearly 25 years but was able to finally buy a home through the program.

“They didn’t believe that they could afford a home,” he said. But thanks to the program “a family that had lived almost two generations renting was able to buy a home.”

He said he drove by the home recently, and the family is still there.

Residents can get more information at

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