By JENNIFER SCHULTZ, OSJAJuly 23, 2009
President Barrack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on Feb. 19. Among the $7.4 billion given to the Department of Defense, approximately $555 million was appropriated to expand the Homeowner's Assistance Program designed to provide assistance to eligible military and DoD civilian employees (to include non-appropriated fund employees) who suffered financial loss from the sale of their primary home due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closing.
Under the expanded program, Warriors in Transition (with 30 percent or greater disability), surviving spouses of fallen service members, and military personnel (to include the Coast Guard) with permanent change of station orders are now eligible to apply for HAP benefits.
These benefits include:
Partial reimbursement of a loss due to a sale of a home;
Assistance in paying off the remainder of a mortgage if the proceeds of the sale are insufficient;
Purchasing a home by paying off the mortgage; and
Payment of certain foreclosure liabilities.
To qualify, individuals must have owned and sold a home during a specific period of time depending upon their category. For example, service members with PCS orders must have owned a home prior to July 1, 2006, and PCSed after Feb. 1, 2006, and before Sept. 30, 2012, while a BRAC employee must have owned a home between May 13, 2005, and July 1, 2006, and sold the home before Sept. 30, 2012.
Individuals must also have suffered, or will suffer, a financial loss when their home is sold, purchased by the government or foreclosed upon. For example, DoD employees unable to sell their homes as part of a BRAC move may elect to sell their homes to the government. Should they elect to do so, they would receive, as the purchase price, an amount not to exceed 75 percent of the appraised fair market value prior to the date of the announcement, or the current total amount of outstanding mortgages, whichever is greater. Some of these benefits may be taxable.
In order to apply for HAP benefits, an applicant must submit a DD Form 1607, Application for Homeowners Assistance, along with supporting documentation (for example, military or civilian transfer orders, deed, mortgage note, etc.) to one of three U.S. Army Corps of Engineer District offices. Upon receipt, the application will be processed in accordance with DoD policy. The DoD policy on extended HAP benefits has not been adopted as of the date of this article but, once published, it is anticipated that there may be a backlog of six to nine months to process applications.
In sum, while the HAP will not eliminate all of an individual homeowner's losses, it will help to limit them.
For more information on HAP, visit http://hap.usace.army.mil to find additional information on the program, to include the Application for Homeowners Assistance and contact information for the three HAP Field Offices.
Eligible personnel may also contact the Client Services Division, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, call 410-278-1583 or stop by building 4305, 3rd floor, room 346. Attorney consultations require an appointment.