Port Shorts: Communities First Down Payment Assistance Program

What exactly is Communities First - Ohio?

Communities First provides first mortgage financing and down payment / closing cost assistance grants to eligible homebuyers.

Why does The Port have a down payment assistance program?

The Port was asked to be the state-wide sponsor of Communities First. Communities First complements The Port's overall efforts to increase homeownership including REACH and HURC, both offering fully-rehabbed, formerly vacant homes at a subsidy.

"Owning a home is the American Dream, so you get an opportunity to actually get equity and ownership into something. Usually the biggest thing that anybody in their lifetime has equity in is a home." - Greg Hahn, Director of Public Finance and Compliance, The Port.

Where is Communities First offered?

"It's generally the first-time homebuyer. It's mostly younger families or young single people who are fed up with renting and they want an opportunity to own a home, but they just don't have that nest egg, that 5-10 thousand dollars sitting in a savings account." - Greg Hahn, Director of Public Finance, The Port

"I've been renting for over twelve years, and with the housing market - it was crazy last year - I suggested to my landlord and he agreed to sell the condo to me. That helped me out a great deal because I was spending a lot in rent and getting nothing from it. Financially, I don't know if I would have been able to own a home." - Patricia Kirkendall, Communities First Recipient.

Buyers must:

  1. Apply through a participating lender
  2. Meet industry standard guidelines
  3. Not exceed maximum income limits
  4. Have a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 45% (subject to change)
  5. Have a minimum FICO credit score of 640 (subject to change)
  6. Occupy the same property as their principal residence within 60 days

How do I apply?

It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Apply through a participating lender
  2. Verify eligibility and obtain pre-approval
  3. Close on your new home!


Communities First has helped over 5,600 individuals and families buy a home and issued more than $718 million in loan volume.

"To be able to help people alleviate some of that financial burden; it makes you feel good inside. It's another tool of The Port that doesn't get a lot of recognition, but it's helping a lot of people across the State of Ohio purchase their first home and gain access to homeownership." - Greg Hahn, Director of Public Finance, The Port

"Without The Port, I may not have had the opportunity to own this home. Financially, it made it so much easier, and I thank you all. Because now I have a home!" - Patricia Kirkendall, Communities First Recipient.

Want to learn more?

Visit CommunitiesFirstOhio.com to see:

  • income limits
  • eligibility requirements
  • and to find a participating lender

Written, produced, and edited by The Port's Communications and Marketing team