The Senate today voted 84 to 12 to pass the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, which included Senator John Kerry's provisions to protect active duty service members and their families from foreclosure, and Kerry's Mortgage Revenue Bonds proposal to give localities new tools to help keep thousands more American families in their homes.
Kerry introduced The Military Family Homes Protection Act to expand the Service Member Civil Relief Act (SCRA) which provides returning soldiers with one year relief from increases in mortgage interest rates. It will also extend the existing protections from foreclosure from 90 days to nine months after active duty service members return home. The SCRA helps members of the military and their families deal with the special financial burdens associated with serving their country.
A Kerry provision that would expand the Mortgage Revenue Bond program was also included, which would provide an additional $10 billion of tax-exempt private activity bond authority to be used to provide for the refinancing of subprime loans, mortgages for first-time homebuyers, and multifamily rental housing.
"Today's passage of these provisions will help ensure our military families won't lose their home to foreclosure or face skyrocketing mortgage interest rates. Combine a housing crisis with an unemployment rate for young veterans that has been as high as triple the national average and it's clear Congress needed to act," said Senator Kerry. "I'm also glad we succeeded in expanding the mortgage revenue bond program which will help families facing foreclosure and first-time buyers looking for a safe, fair mortgage."
Kerry's military legislation was supported by The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), Veterans of Foreign Wars, Reserve Officers Association and the National Military Families Association.
"The post deployment extensions of key SCRA foreclosure and interest rate protections proposed in the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 would greatly help to mitigate the financial and emotional burdens of deployment. NGAUS deeply appreciates Senator Kerry's efforts on behalf of National Guard members and their families. He understands and cares," said Colonel Peter J. Duffy, of the National Guard Association of the United States.
"This legislation will help families that have been caught in the subprime mortgage crisis and may be the difference between a service member's family having a home or being homeless. Senator Kerry, thank you for concentrating on the changes that can make all the difference in veterans' lives," said Dennis Cullinan of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"The Reserve Officers Association is pleased with what Senator Kerry was able to include in the Senate's foreclosure bill. Service members need protection during deployment from foreclosure on their homes. Extending Servicemen's Civil Relief Act protections from 3 to 9 months give a returning service member time to meet with the lending institutions and get things corrected. This legislation fixes a problem identified by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserve in their final report and exceeds their recommendation. ROA will be working with Senator Kerry's office to insure that his language is included in the final legislation," said Captain Marshall Hanson of the Reserve Officers Association.
"Military families, like many American families, are struggling to keep their homes during the current mortgage crisis. In many cases the circumstances are worsened by the financial impacts of repeated deployments. Extending foreclosure protection and interest rate caps under the SCRA is not only good for military families; it is good for the greater economy. NMFA appreciates the additional protections provided to military members and their families in this legislation and thanks Congress for their continued support for military families," said Jessica Perdew, of the National Military Family Association.
The recent report by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves suggested that amending SCRA by extending the filing deadline for foreclosure would help service members and their families devote their full attention to serving our nation.