The Defense Department is supporting legislation that would greatly expand foreclosure protections for deployed service members, surviving spouses and disabled veterans.
The Military Family Home Protection Act, HR 1842, would expand mortgage-related protections of the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act by making service members receiving hostile fire or imminent danger pay eligible for foreclosure protection beginning on the day their special pay started and ending one year after it stopped.
“This is a considerable expansion,” said Frank DiGiovanni, director of training, readiness and strategy in the Defense Department’s personnel and readiness directorate, as the bill was discussed Wednesday by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s economic opportunity panel.
Foreclosure protection would be provided to surviving spouses of service members who die in support of a contingency operation or while in service of a service-connected cause.
Also covered would be service members medically discharged and retired from the military.
While DoD is on board, the Veterans Affairs Department cautioned that some changes might be needed in the specifics, such as how notice is given to a creditor of foreclosure protection rights.
One example of what might go wrong is if a service member provides notice of foreclosure protection after the lender has foreclosed and sold the property. This “could result in a cloud on the title to the property or even an invalidation of that sale and any subsequent sale,” warned Curtis Coy, the VA’s deputy undersecretary for economic opportunity.
Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives last year, only to be held up in the Senate, said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the chief sponsor. A version of the legislation is attached to the 2014 defense authorization bill that has already passed the House, but the veterans’ committee is considering passing separate legislation.