Sometimes it seems the U.S. remains stuck in a cycle of bad news. After years of headlines about the slumping housing market and the economic challenges facing our veterans and service members, you might be surprised by this story: Now in its 70th year, the VA home loan program has been an unqualified success.
Created by Congress in 1944, this benefit program helps our servicemen and women buy a home with more flexible down payment and debt-burden requirements. For many, it’s the only way they can buy a home that meets their budget and family needs.
The program’s excellent performance over the years, even at the height of the home mortgage crisis, can be directly attributed to more thorough underwriting and proactive customer services. The VA has made a commitment to helping Veterans not just purchase homes but keep them. If the rest of the U.S. mortgage market had followed the risk-control measures of this program, the country would have experienced far fewer economic problems.
But there's a looming challenge for this program: legislation defining the maximum allowable amount of a VA home loan guaranty is scheduled to expire on December 31. As such, veterans and military members living in high-cost areas will lose a substantial portion of their purchasing power. A decrease in loan limits could force Veterans to choose less favorable financing options or face a significant down payment in order to use their hard-earned VA benefit. Some may have to hold off on home buying altogether.
Congress can extend the program’s loan limits and ensure that it is available to all veterans. And, it should. We shouldn’t penalize active military members stationed in expensive housing markets or veterans who want to put down roots in the country they so willingly defended.
The VA has now backed more than 21 million home loans. VA loans continue to open the doors of homeownership to those who’ve vowed to safeguard the American Dream.
Let’s make sure all our heroes can access the program, no matter where they may live.
Patton served as the 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. He served in the Coast Guard for 30 years. He is a founding member of Pinnacle Five LLC, which is made up of the former top five senior enlisted leaders of the military. Now retired from active military service, the group of service members works to raise awareness of important issues facing veterans across the country. The group may be reach at www.pinnaclefive.com.