LANSING – November 11, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) –Attorney General Bill Schuette today offered a special Veterans Day message in advance of Monday’s holiday. In addition to thanking veterans for their service, Schuette also announced the distribution of more than $1 million in grants to struggling military and veteran homeowners impacted by the foreclosure crisis. The funds were distributed through the Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program Schuette announced with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency in May 2013. MiVHAP has helped at least 154 homeowners in 43 counties across the state, according to recent numbers provided by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.
“On Veterans Day, we honor the sacrifice, strength and courage of our military members in grateful appreciation for the service to our nation,” said Schuette. “Our brave veterans risk their lives to fight for our freedoms daily, and they should never be forced out of their homes illegally. I am pleased with the success of the Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program so far, and I encourage additional veterans and their families seeking foreclosure assistance to apply.”
In May 2013, Schuette and Barnes launched the Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program (MiVHAP), to provide financial assistance to Michigan military service members, veterans and their families who have struggled with the consequences of the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Schuette and Barnes were joined at the announcement by Anne Marie Dutcher, Administrator of the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, the state entity charged with administering the new program.
Federal regulators and court settlements have documented approximately 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, Michigan home to foreclosure while serving his country in Iraq vividly illustrated the problem of lenders illegally foreclosing upon veterans. Sgt. 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: 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.
Michigan has approximately 700,000 veterans and 12,000 troops active in the Michigan National Guard. More than 22,000 Michigan National Guard members have deployed since September 11, 2001, with 300 currently deployed. The average deployment period is one year, following a two month mobilization and training period. The Michigan Guard has some of the most actively deployed combat units in the country, with the average Michigan soldier deploying four to five times throughout their military career.
MiVHAP is a separate program from the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, but the new program will be administered by the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund state office staff. Grants are awarded on a first-come, first served basis and will be made until the money runs out. Grants that are awarded will be sent directly to vendors, including lenders or government entities owed back taxes. Each grant is based on individual circumstances of an application, but priority will be given to requests seeking to avoid mortgage defaults, foreclosure and property tax foreclosure.
How Military Service Members and Veterans Can Apply for MiVHAP Grants
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 by mail may be sent to: Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, MiVHAP, P.O. Box 30104, Lansing, MI 48909.
National Mortgage Settlement
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 of Michigan, which formed the Homeowner Protection Fund.
Schuette noted questions have been raised about whether the banks are following the settlement’s comprehensive reforms to improve customer service and transparency for borrowers. In response, Schuette has sent a letter outlining his concerns about banks meeting certain deadlines and filing requirements for borrowers to the national mortgage settlement’s independent monitor, Joseph A. Smith, Jr. As a member of the formal state monitoring committee, Schuette will be closely involved in all efforts to protect Michigan homeowners by ensuring full and complete compliance by the banks.
For additional information, please visit: www.michigan.gov/mortgagesettlement.
Legal Protections for Military Service Members and Veterans
Schuette noted Michigan veterans and their loved ones can visit the Attorney General’s website at 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.
State of Michigan offices, including the Attorney General’s office, will be closed on Monday November 11, 2013 in observance of Veterans Day.
Contact: Joy Yearout 517-373-8060