More minority and working-class families in Illinois will become homeowners by using two new mortgage assistance programs, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced this week.

The SmartBuy and Opening Doors programs are offered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), said Pritzker, and designed to help borrowers with student loan debt and the inability to make down payments. The programs were created to serve consumers from underrepresented communities of color and low-to-moderate income families in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“One of the biggest obstacles to buying a home is saving enough money for a down payment, which is increasingly difficult when saddled with student loan debt and taking care of a family,” said Pritzker. “The SmartBuy and Opening Doors mortgage assistance programs will help bridge the financial gap that historically prevented certain communities from owning a home. While we cannot undo past harms that resulted in barriers to homeownership for too many Illinoisans, my administration is committed to providing assistance that will allow more people to reach this goal.” 

SmartBuy – Consumers can apply for a 30-year first mortgage at a fixed rate with $5,000 deferred for down payment and/or closing cost assistance, as well as 15 percent of the purchase price (up to a maximum of $40,000) in student loan debt relief. Applicants must have at least $1,000 in student loan debt and must pay off their full remaining student loan balance at closing.  

Opening Doors (Abriendo Puertas) – The program offers a 30-year first mortgage with a fixed interest rate and $6,000 in down payment and/or closing cost assistance. The down payment assistance is forgiven after five years. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are eligible to apply. 

The IHDA offers more information on both programs. 

Illinois REALTORS® offers a list of other mortgage loan and affordability resources.