Connolly Offers Amendment to Keep Military Families in Their Homes

March 15, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — An amendment by Congressman Gerry Connolly to continue providing emergency mortgage assistance to service members, veterans, and gold star families failed on a party line vote today as the House of Representatives passed legislation to strip assistance to homeowners in distress.

Connolly’s amendment to H.R. 836, the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program Termination Act, was offered in conjunction with Congressman Al Green (D-Texas) and would continue the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program for members of the Armed Forces, Veterans, and Gold Star Families.  The amendment was killed on the House floor by a vote of 182-238.

“The brave men and women of our armed forces fight and die to protect our families and our homes here in the United States,” Rep. Connolly said.  “How can we now tell them we’re not going to fight to protect theirs?”

Connolly reminded his House colleagues that no group of homeowners has been hit harder by the foreclosure crisis than members of our military and their families.  In military towns, the foreclosure rate is four times higher than the national average.  From 2007 to 2008, the rate of foreclosure in towns within ten miles of a military facility rose by 217 percent, compared with just 59 percent nationwide.  In Woodbridge, Virginia near Marine Corps Base Quantico the foreclosure rate increased 414 percent.

“Tragically the unemployment rate for the heroes who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan is fifteen percent higher than the national average, underscoring the hardships these veterans face when they return home,” Rep. Connolly said.  “How can we now turn our back on them and not do everything in our power to keep their families in their homes?”

H.R. 836 would rescind the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program, authorized and funded under Section 1496(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  The Emergency Mortgage Relief Program made $1 billion available to help homeowners who are delinquent through no fault of their own, often as a result of short-term unemployment or a medical condition.  The purpose is to provide assistance with mortgage payments until the homeowner can find a job or is otherwise able to continue mortgage payments.  Connolly’s amendment would alter the legislation to continue the program for service members, veterans, and Gold Star recipients.

“Once again, the Republican Majority has shown that they know the cost of everything but the value of nothing,” Connolly said.   “All of us in Congress have a sacred obligation to fight for those who fight for us.  I’m saddened by the fact that, today, this body was unwilling to fight.”

Connolly’s amendment comes on the heels of his earlier effort to support military families facing severe financial distress.  Earlier this year, he introduced legislation to give the Secretary of Defense flexibility to fix a loophole in a separate homeowners assistance program for military families. Currently, service members must have purchased their home before July 1, 2006 to qualify. But many military families who were hurt by the housing bubble and must relocate due to military orders do not fall within this narrow date range.   Connolly’s legislation would address this unfair exclusion.

Watch the video here.

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