The state has launched the Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program, which will provide financial assistance to Michigan military service members, veterans and their families who have struggled with the consequences of the mortgage foreclosure crisis.
“Our veterans and their families make sacrifices to protect the freedoms we hold dear, and they should never be forced out of their homes illegally,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said. “Veterans have special protections from foreclosure under the law, but in many cases those protections were ignored by lenders, who pursued improper foreclosures. This new assistance is an important step toward restoring the lives of Great Lakes State veterans who may have struggled to keep their homes during the foreclosure crisis.”
MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams said that while credit unions were not part of the problem, they appreciate the opportunity to do more to help those who serve or have served in the military.
“Credit unions understand the critical role played by our military service men and women and veterans,” MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams said. “Instead of forcing people who have served or are serving our country out of their homes, credit unions want to work with members to avoid foreclosure and help them stay in their homes. Credit unions welcome this financial assistance program.”
“The complex challenges of deployment including the tempo of operation and the difficulty with establishing communications during normal business hours with lenders, makes it almost impossible for soldiers to remedy a pending foreclosure from the field,” said Jeff Barnes, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. “Further, the ramifications of foreclosure may result in the soldier losing their security clearance, creating a problem with their military job and can render them ineligible for re-deployment. Foreclosure for military service members continues to create additional problems for years by creating barriers to civilian employment and future home ownership.”
Federal regulators and court settlements have documented about 900 service members nationwide who were foreclosed upon in violation of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. At least 6,000 more were overcharged during the crisis by JP Morgan. The case of Sgt. James B. Hurley, a disabled veteran who lost his Hartford, Mich., home to foreclosure while serving his country in Iraq vividly illustrates the problem of lenders illegally foreclosing upon veterans. Hurley was forced to pursue private litigation for nearly four years before settling with Deutsche Bank in 2011.
MiVHAP will provide financial grant assistance to military service members including active, reserve, air and Army National Guard, and honorably discharged veterans living or having lived in a home in Michigan for hardship related to the foreclosure crisis since 2006. Surviving spouses of Michigan military service members whose death occurred in combat since 2006 and currently face foreclosure challenges may also be eligible for financial assistance.
Military service members and veterans interested in applying for MiVHAP grants can request applications and obtain more information by calling (517) 284-5296 or by visiting www.michigan.gov/veterans. Requests may also be sent to Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, MiVHAP, P.O. Box 30104, Lansing, MI 48909.
MiVHAP was made possible by National Mortgage Settlement, which addressed allegations of faulty foreclosure processes and poor servicing of mortgages that harmed Michigan homeowners. The historic joint federal-state settlement was signed by 49 states and the nation’s five largest banks and lenders: Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. The settlement required the bank mortgage servicers to provide the participating states, including Michigan, up to $25 billion dollars in monetary sanctions and relief. Michigan residents are expected to receive approximately $780 million in benefits, including the $97 million payment directly to the state, which formed the Homeowner Protection Fund, created by legislation signed in April 2012 by Gov. Rick Snyder.
According to the most recent report from the independent settlement monitor, 15,000 Michigan homeowners have already received approximately $708 million in relief, including short sales and principal reductions. In addition, 116,000 Michigan loans qualified for cash payments, and of those, 85,000 Michigan claims were filed. As a result, Michigan had a response rate of approximately 73%, which is significantly better than expected.
Schuette noted Michigan veterans and their loved ones can visit www.michigan.gov/vetresources to learn about important legal benefits and special protections afforded to current and former service members. Military agencies and nonprofit organizations who offer legal assistance are also highlighted.