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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Officials with the City of Columbia are kicking off a new home loan program at a news conference.

On Thursday, Mayor Steve Benjamin and other city officials are holding a news conference at City Hall.

Officials say the General Assistance Program is made possible through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The program encourages home buyers to consider living in Columbia by offering up to $10,000 in down payment assistance or $10,000 in assistance for qualified repairs for existing homeowners.

Officials say it provides an opportunity to purchase homes at below market rates and lower monthly payments.

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