Tester, Brown Team Up to Help Veterans Keep their Homes

Senators introduce legislation to help veterans using the VA home loan exit forbearance and get their mortgage payments back on track

(U.S. Senate) — Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are teaming up to introduce legislation to ensure veterans and servicemembers using Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans can keep their homes.    

Veterans and servicemembers with VA home loans who faced financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic used forbearance to pause their mortgage payments without penalty and remain in their homes. The Senators’ Veterans Housing Stability Act of 2024 would reestablish a partial claim program to help veterans and servicemembers using the VA home loan exit forbearance and get back on track with their payments and keep their homes.

“Our veterans earned their home loan guarantee benefit, and they deserve a viable option to get back on track with payments and keep their homes,” said Tester. “While pausing foreclosures for these men and women was a step in the right direction, our veterans and servicemembers need to be able to bring their mortgage current while VA works on its long-term solution. Our bill will ensure they can do that and are granted the same options as they would be under other federally-backed loans.”

“No Ohio veterans should be kicked out of their home – particularly not when they are trying to get back on track with their payments. Ohioans who have served our country and used their VA home loan benefit don’t have workable options to resume their payments and are facing foreclosure,” said Brown. “The Veterans Housing Stability Act will keep our promises to veterans and servicemembers today and in the future by giving homeowners affordable options to stay in their homes.”

While VA previously offered solutions to help borrowers exit forbearance and get back on track with their payments, the Department ended some of those programs when the COVID-19 national emergency ended and left veterans with fewer options to bring their mortgages current. These limited options have left thousands of veterans and servicemembers who took forbearance vulnerable to losing their homes.

The Senators’ Veterans Housing Stability Act of 2024 would also grant VA the authority to impose a moratorium on foreclosure, or establish a period of forbearance if there is an urgent need, including a declared national emergency or disaster.

Following a push from Tester and Brown, VA paused foreclosures of VA home loans in November through May 31, 2024 to help veterans and servicemembers stay in their homes. In a letter to VA Secretary McDonough, the Senators urged VA to take immediate action to ensure veterans and servicemembers don’t lose their homes and are afforded the same protections as those with other federally-backed loans.

In addition to pausing foreclosures, VA is continuing its efforts to launch the Department’s newest home retention option, the VA Servicing Purchase Program. This new loss mitigation solution will help more veterans lower their payments and remain in their homes. The partial claim program authorized by the Veterans Housing Stability Act of 2024 will ensure veterans can keep their homes while VA gets its new program off the ground and that veterans and servicemembers will have more options to save their homes in the future.

“We support this bill because it clarifies the VA's authority to provide additional tools to help Veteran borrowers who require assistance to save their homes,” said Steve Sharpe, Senior Attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “It is unacceptable that the mortgage relief options available for Veteran borrowers are less favorable than the options available to other federally backed borrowers, and this bill will help close this gap."

“Senator Tester and Senator Brown have doggedly fought to help veterans experiencing economic hardship stay in their homes. The Veterans Housing Stability Act would ensure veterans have options to avoid preventable foreclosures,” said Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending. “Our government should act aggressively to prevent unnecessary foreclosures as it did during the pandemic and should have done around the 2008 Financial Crisis.”

The Senators’ legislation is also supported by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

If you are a veteran who is struggling to make your VA home loan payment, visit www.va.gov/housing-assistance or call 877-827-3702 for assistance.