The Housing Chronicles Blog: Can those wounded from war benefit from the housing glut?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Can those wounded from war benefit from the housing glut?

Here's an interesting idea: pair a non-profit with a builder facing too much inventory and sell unsold homes to war veterans at a substantial discount.

From an AP story by Michelle Roberts (and which I found at, apparently this idea is catching on -- albeit very slowly -- in places like Texas:

The glut of unsold houses pocking the nation's newer neighborhoods may be just what the doctor ordered for thousands of wounded servicemembers facing homelessness and serious financial hardships since returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, advocates say.

Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that aids the families of deployed and wounded servicemembers, has launched what it says is a first of its kind effort to match wounded soldiers with lenders and homebuilders to help them buy homes at prices they can afford in communities near Veterans Administration medical facilities...

The VA, which is primarily concerned with medical care and disability, doesn't track bankruptcy among wounded veterans but has estimated that 195,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. As many as twice that number have been homeless within the last year, the agency says. Many of the homeless are Vietnam-era veterans...

...Amy Palmer, Operation Homefront's executive vice president, said the group, which has a $13 million annual budget, is trying to convince builders with unsold homes to sell the houses at a substantial discount to wounded servicemembers.

The group has approached major homebuilders and lenders, asking them to look at a wounded veteran's pre-injury credit rating and consider selling at a substantial discount. The nonprofit will pay mortgage points and closing costs to help make the deals workable, Palmer said.

So far, they've been able to work out a few individual deals but hope to get a more widespread program launched.

I remember filing for VA benefits when my Dad, a veteran of the Korean War, became very ill in early 2000. After months of bureaucratic snafus, we were told he qualified for a monthly benefit amount of $80. Fortunately for us, we were able to work out an alternate financing plan that paid for his care, but when I hear stories of forgotten veterans, I believe them!

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