In a welcome move to safeguard the homes of veterans and service members, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced a six-month freeze on foreclosures for VA-backed home loans.
This decision was prompted by the advocacy of Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. It presents a crucial step in protecting those who, through no fault of their own, are at risk of losing their homes amidst ongoing pandemic-related hardships.
Senator Tester played a pivotal role in urging the VA to take immediate action, emphasizing the urgency of the situation for veterans facing foreclosure.
Together with Senate Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, he wrote to VA Secretary Denis McDonough trying to urge him to extend the COVID-era refund program.
“With each additional day that passes, risks mount for borrowers who are facing foreclosure while they wait for a solution from the VA. Without this pause, thousands of veterans and service members could needlessly lose their homes,” they wrote in their appeal. “This was never the intent of Congress.”
The VA’s response to Tester’s call for action demonstrates a commitment to supporting those who have served our country.
The issue at hand stems from the financial difficulties many veterans and servicemembers encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While forbearance provided temporary relief by allowing them to pause mortgage payments, the expiration of certain measures with the pandemic’s end left some with limited options to manage their mortgages, putting them at risk of losing their homes.
To address this pressing concern, the VA is not only halting foreclosures but also extending the COVID-19 Refund Modification program through May 31, 2024. This program offers veterans a zero-interest, deferred-payment loan to cover missed payments and modifies their existing VA loan for more affordable monthly payments.
In addition to these measures, the VA is actively working on launching the VA Servicing Purchase Program, a new initiative designed to provide additional loss mitigation solutions. The program aims to assist veterans in lowering their payments, enabling them to retain ownership of their homes.
For veterans struggling with VA home loan payments, the VA encourages them to seek assistance through its housing assistance website or by calling a dedicated helpline.
This reaffirms the commitment of the VA to stand by those who have served, ensuring they have the support and resources needed to navigate challenging financial situations and keep their homes.
Tester praised the VA in his statement, saying, “I’m encouraged to see VA answering my call to quickly address this crisis facing our men and women who risked their lives serving this country and were facing foreclosure through no fault of their own.”
He continued, “This pause will help ensure our veterans, service members, and their families can remain in their homes and get their payments back on track while the VA works on a long-term solution.”
The combination of the foreclosure freeze, extension of support programs, and the upcoming VA Servicing Purchase Program reflects a comprehensive approach to addressing the unique challenges faced by veterans in the current economic climate.
As the nation still grapples with the aftermath of the pandemic, this initiative serves as a beacon of hope for those who have served and sacrificed for the well-being of our country.