Many housing programs are designed to aid active duty and veteran personnel by providing assistance with housing finances and services. Eligible military personnel who adhere to assistance guidelines are eligible for benefits during the mortgage crisis, allowances for high-cost areas, 100 percent home financing and need-based grants.
Homeowners Assistance Program
The Department of Defense (DOD) offers the Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP) to eligible military members and federal civilian families. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) administers the program to aid homeowners who have faced financial loss when selling their primary residence homes in areas where real estate values have declined due to economic turmoil or base closure. The program was expanded in 2009 to assist members who were injured or wounded during deployment. The homes are put up for sale through local public real estate agents. Applicants may not be able to recover 100 percent of their losses, but the assistance may significantly offset the depreciation.
Cost of Living Allowance
Veterans may be stationed virtually anywhere in the country or the world. Those who make a career in the military are likely assigned to a variety of low- and high-cost communities. Military pay may not reflect the local cost-of-living rates as much as private sector salaries. Service members who reside in higher cost areas are eligible for a Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) to help offset local living expenses. Eligible candidates must reside in the United States. The COLA rates have decreased in 2010 due the recession in many housing areas.
Veterans Affairs Home Loan
The Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan came into effect in 1944 through the Servicemen's Readjustment Act. This resource provides housing assistance for veterans, with the possibility of home ownership. Veterans are guaranteed up to 25 percent of a home loan with a maximum of $104,250. In addition, the maximum loan amount of $417,000 aids many families by allowing them to purchase home with zero percent down payments. Eligible veterans must have served at least 90 continuous days of service during wartime, or 181 days during peacetime. Enlisted veterans are required to serve up to two years, whereas those in National Guard units and Reserve programs must serve up to six years.
Military Housing Assistance Fund
The private not-for-profit organization, Military Housing Assistance Fund, offers grants to military families who wish to become homeowners. According to the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 69 percent of civilian Americans own their own homes, in contrast to 27 percent of military families. The organization's mission is to expand housing opportunities to active duty personnel and promote military family home ownership.
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