Homeowners Assistance Program

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Just over three weeks after funds became available under the new, expanded Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP). Julie Walters became the first surviving spouse of a Fallen Warrior to receive assistance. Hers was among 28 applications completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District in the first month since funds became available.

Her husband died during training in Arizona in August 2007. When she sold her home to move to North Carolina to be closer to her family, she took a loss on the sale because of the mortgage crisis. Friends and family who had heard about HAP told her about it, and Walters submitted her application in February.

HAP is a Department of Defense program approved by Congress in 1966, originally aimed at providing aid to servicemembers and civilian employees who lose money on the sale of their homes because of base closure or realignment. The Corps of Engineers manages the program for the Department of Defense.

Under the new program, expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, surviving spouses of fallen servicemembers are among the newly eligible categories. This includes surviving spouses of servicemembers killed in the line of duty or in the performance of their duties during a deployment on or after Sept. 11, 2001, in support of the Armed Forces, or who died from a wound, injury or illness incurred in the line of duty during such a deployment.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense released the funds and issued new guidelines for implementing the program on Sept. 30. The three Corps of Engineers districts who handle the program - Sacramento in the West and Pacific military bases, Fort Worth for the central U.S. and Savannah for the East and military bases in Europe - immediately began processing applications. Many had been submitted even before the funds were available.

Now, with her check arriving less than a month after funds became available, Walters plans to use the money provided by HAP to invest for her and her daughter's future. She recommends the program to other surviving spouses who face a similar situation.

"It's a wonderful program," she said. "It's worth it, and it's not that hard -- I highly recommended it, especially in this economy."

The Sacramento District was also the first of the three Corps districts responsible for processing HAP claims to issue a check, to an Air Force major.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16