“PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK”, A NEWSTUDY BY the Center for Housing Policy, finds the median incomes earned by large sectors of the workforce are insufficient to qualify for a median-priced home in the United States.

A program by the Bank of America aims to make more of those employees homeowners. Four years ago, the bank introduced Teacher Flex, a program designed to help teachers buy homes through lower down-payment requirements and flexibility on credit scores. At the end of June, Bank of America expanded the program—now called Neighborhood Champions—to include other school department workers, law enforcement employees, firefighters, and full-time medical professionals.

Buyers need only put down as little as $500 or 1 percent of the home price, and remaining down-payment or closing costs can be covered by a gift or otherwise-attained grant. Untraditional credit histories—those based on rental and utility payments—are accepted, and the program also considers undocumented income because so many of the target workers have side jobs that pay in cash.

Bank of America hasn't limited applicants' income to be eligible for the program. The mortgages, however, must fall under the jumbo limit—$322,700—because Fannie Mae is purchasing the loans in the secondary mortgage market.