A recent Associated Press study reveals most American households can’t cover a $1,000 emergency expense. Military families are a segment of this larger community and while they face similar concerns, they must do so while also coping with a variety of other significant challenges–many of which are financial in nature. These challenges are further compounded for military families who are transitioning back to their civilian communities. Short term difficulties in making ends meet can quickly turn into a regularly recurring series of crises that dim any hope of a brighter future. As a result, large numbers of military families in transition are at risk.
Military families have done so much to serve us all in our nation’s time of need and we must actively work to care for them in their time of need. We can, and must, do more than simply pay lip service to their difficulties and watch them struggle to get by. We need to provide this special and deserving group of our fellow citizens the programs and services they he need help them address their financial concerns so they can thrive in the communities–our communities– they have worked so hard to protect. Having a safe and secure place a military family can call “home” is essential for their successful reintegration into their chosen civilian community, as it provides the foundation that makes the American dream of home ownership possible. Providing a mortgage-free home is the answer.
By design, the home donation program is built upon the tax-deductible presentation of distressed residential assets (real estate owned or REO) from investors in “as is” condition. The Veterans Financial Services Advisory Council (VFSAC), through a collaborative effort, will conduct repairs and necessary rehab to restore the home to move in ready condition. VFSAC also accepts donations of rehab homes from investors, asset management companies, or mortgage companies. Another available option is a home donation with cash donation to assist in the rehab of a property. Once a property is in ready condition, it becomes available for presentation as a mortgage free home to a qualified veteran family.
We need to harness the massive power of the mortgage industry and investor community in a holistic way to better meet the housing needs of our transitioning military families. By bringing together those who can source homes with those who can renovate homes and those who can provide the resources to manage the program through the Veterans’ Financial Services Advisory Council in partnership with a nationally recognized and trusted 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Operation Homefront, and through their Homes on the Homefront program, can make a real difference for military families. The time is now.
Honorably discharged veterans with priority given to those who are within seven years of discharge. Applicants must be committed to living in the home for a period of two years during which Operation Homefront maintains the deed, ensures the family integrates into the community, and prepares the military family for home ownership. Upon successful completion of the program, Operation Homefront transfers the deed to the military family.
A caseworker will be assigned to each available home and will review all applications for each home. The caseworker will submit eligible applicants to the Operation Homefront housing committee who will select the applicant that will be the recipient of the home. Selection is made on a case-by-case basis and includes such factors as: financial need, connection to the local community where the home is available, injury status, family size, etc. It usually takes about four-six weeks to get through all the applications from the date the home closes.
Once selected for a home, the recipient will reside in the property as a tenant of Operation Homefront for a period between one and two years. The following will be required during the time recipients are in the program to receive the deed to the home:
The Program Benefits
Military families have both immediate and long-term benefits. In the short term, the family can focus on quickly integrating into their community. In the long term, having a mortgage-free home allows the family to enjoy lasting impact as home equity can be passed to future generations. For the mortgage industry, tangible benefits include: Removing NPL (distressed assets) from balance sheet; reducing credit loss and risk exposure; liquidating stale assets on auction sites; gaining CRA credit, and claiming tax credit at fair market value. Intangible benefits include: enhanced community standing and improved employee engagement. Clearly, a win-win for all involved.