Financial Aid Helps Qualified Tampa Buyers Get Their First Home

Bryana Oliver is counting down the days to a life-changing step.

“I’m about to close my first home ever and I’m very excited,” Oliver said.

Next week, she and her four children will finally have a home of their own, but her path to home ownership was not an easy one. As a medical assistant and single mother, saving for a down payment seemed impossible.

Additional challenge: an extremely competitive market. According to Redfin, the median home price in Tampa has skyrocketed to $400,000, up 21 percent from this time last year and a $120,000 jump from the May 2020 average price.

As Oliver watched prices rise, she had a feeling homeownership might just be out of reach.

“You would see a house and think, okay, I’m going to buy this one. No. It’s like you want it and then someone higher than you bids,” Oliver recalls.

Fortunately, she didn’t have to do it alone. Oliver was able to take advantage of two Tampa programs that help eligible first-time homebuyers like her through the process. After getting her credit lined up, Oliver qualified for the city’s Dare to Own the Dream program, which offers down payments to eligible buyers. And by focusing her search on eastern Tampa, Oliver was able to get a significant amount of financial aid to buy her first home.

“With Dare, we are helping to fund a deficit of up to $40,000 for first-time home buyers,” explains Kayon Henderson, Tampa Community Development Manager. “If you’re in the Eastern Tampa Community Redevelopment Area, you can get up to $90,000 in gap funding.”

With her closing date approaching, Oliver says she’s much more optimistic about her family’s future. Her new home won’t be much bigger than her current three-bedroom apartment, but she’s finally on her way to building something much bigger for her family.

“I want a place where my kids feel like it’s their home. Later in the years they can sell that house or make money off it, it’ll just be their thing,” Oliver said. “I’m excited to start building equity.”

The city of Tampa is hosting a homeownership event this Saturday where potential homeowners can get advice from industry experts, tour affordable housing in the city, and learn about financial aid programs.

The event is next Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tampa Convention Center. For more information, visit:

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