Queens, New York offers distinct neighborhoods and up to $100,000 in down payment assistance

By Housing Nonprofit

First time home buyers can get up to $100,000 to help buy a home through the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program

Queens Night Market

This easternmost borough in New York city is densely populated, and one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world. Neighborhoods have unique identities, and great school options. Sports fans will love catching the New York Mets baseball team and the US Open tennis tournament, ocean lovers will have access to famed Rockaway beach, and food lovers will enjoy some of the best restaurants in New York City.’

In Queens you’ll experience a big city, with distinct neighborhoods that each have a unique feel. In fact, many residents identify with their neighborhood more than with the borough or city. Queens has a population of 2.3 million, and a median age of 40.4, according to 2021 Census data.

Throughout Queens, which some people describe as a suburb or extension of Manhattan, you’ll find plenty of parks, bars, restaurants and coffee shops.  Queens is actually located within New York City and is one of the five boroughs, which include Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Bronx and Brooklyn. While Queens is densely populated, it’s not as dense as Manhattan, thus giving it a somewhat suburban feel. Neighborhoods along the transportation corridors are the most crowded.

The local government provides up to $15,000 in assistance, forgivable after 10 years.

With a large Greek population, Astoria has some of the best Greek food in the Queens. Close to the city, Astoria is also popular with young professionals and has an energetic nightlife. Forest Hills is a good choice for families, as it features plenty of parks and schools. Upbeat Jamaica blends many cultures, making it easy to find a wide variety of cuisine. Jamaica Estates features larger homes and more space, and is popular with families. For the best Italian food in the city, head to Richmond Hill. And if art and music interest you, check out Sunnyside, which attracts artists and creators.

Local attractions include the contemporary art gallery Moma PS1, the Queens Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image and the New York Hall of Science. Rockaway beach is a great day trip, accessible by bus or train. Once there, enjoy a cold drink, nice meal, or take a surf lesson. If you’re on the hunt for amazing eats, visit the Queens Night Market, which brings together an ethnically diverse mix of food vendors.

The public schools in Queens are rated above average, and there are several specialty schools and private schools. For higher education opportunities, students may choose among St. John’s University, Queens College and LaGuardia Community College (part of the CUNY system), and the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology.

The median household income in Queens is $73,262, and the median property value is $642,000 (for owner-occupied housing units). Several programs offer financial assistance to help home buyers achieve home ownership in Queens.

The New York State Association of Realtors offers a $2,000 Housing Opportunities Foundation grant to help first-time home buyers with down payment and closing costs. The grant does not require repayment.

The HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program offers up to $100,000 in down payment or closing cost assistance to income-eligible first time home buyers in any of New York City’s five boroughs. You need to stay in your home for 10 years if you receive less than $40,000 of assistance. If you receive more than $40,000, you need to stay in your home for at least 15 years.

The State of New York Mortgage Agency offers two programs to help first time home buyers. The Down Payment Assistance Loan (DPAL) provides up to $15,000 in down payment assistance, forgivable after 10 years. An enhanced subsidy to the program called DPAL PLUS offers an additional amount of up to $30,000 to help home buyers reach 20% of the home’s purchase price as a down payment. Learn more about DPAL and DPAL PLUS here.