The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, H.R. 3221, was signed into law (Public Law 110-289) this July by President Bush. This legislation is designed to help homeowners keep their existing homes and provide first-time buyers access to affordable housing.
Military families should know that several provisions within H.R. 3221 uniquely impact servicemembers and veterans. The law will:
Exclude military housing allowances from counting as income when servicemembers try to qualify for low-income housing.
Expand the foreclosure protection for servicemembers returning from deployment. Previously, servicemembers enjoyed 90 days’ protection from foreclosure; this is now raised to nine months. This temporary protection expires December 31, 2010.
Provide a temporary increase until the end of the year for the maximum loan guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Depending on the median housing prices for the area, the cap can run as high as $720,750 and as low as $417,000.
Require the Secretary of Defense to develop a program to provide financial counseling to returning servicemembers, including credit and home mortgage counseling.
Provide a moving benefit to servicemembers who are forced to move out of rental housing if the owner of the housing is foreclosed on.
Increase grants for severely disabled veterans from $50,000 to $60,000.
Make totally disabled servicemembers held on active duty for medical reasons eligible for VA grants for home alternations before their discharge.
Extend grants for specially adapted housing and assistance to veterans with severe burns and veterans residing outside the United States.
Allow veteran benefits received as a lump sum to be treated as monthly benefits for the purposes of eligibility for Section 8 Housing assistance.