Premier Paul Davis announced $2.5 million Thursday to help first-time homebuyers with their downpayments.

Billed as a two-year pilot project, the Downpayment Assistance Program (DAP) is geared towards homebuyers with low to moderate incomes.

The program is expected to help 100-125 applicants annually.

"The idea of the program is to make it achievable and attainable for people who are trying to purchase their first home, and just in circumstances [it's] really tough sometimes to make that downpayment," Davis said.

"To save $12,500 sometimes [it] can take a long time for a family to do when they're working hard to make ends meet for themselves, for their family, for their children and they may be paying very high rent. So this is this boost to get them to the next stage."

The buyers must have a total household income of $65,000 or less, and be able to get a pre-approved mortgage from an accredited lender.

"We have also introduced variance policies that will allow for smaller levels of assistance for those with incomes slightly above $65,000 or for the purchase of homes slightly above the maximum purchase price," Davis said.

They may be eligible for a down-payment loan ranging from $4,000 to $12,500, based on a sliding scale of household income and regional residential real estate costs.

Buyers will be eligible for a repayable loan up to five per cent of the purchase price of a new or existing home to a maximum purchase price of: 

  • $250,000 in St. John's and Labrador
  • $200,000 in Clarenville, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook and Stephenville and all communities within a 30-kilometre radius
  • $175,000 in the remainder of the province.

People will have five years after they buy their home before they have to start repaying the loan.

NDP St. John's Centre MHA Gerry Rogers said she didn't know whether to "celebrate or to be absolutely outraged."

"This program was promised by this government four years ago," she said. "I don't know how many times I stood up in the House of Assembly and asked, 'Where is this program?' 'It's a coming,' they said, 'it's coming.' It's been four years of false promises."

She called the announcement "a Hail Mary by a government's that's dying."