Trying to sell a house during a housing market collapse is a harrowing experience. This is compounded for members of the military who are forced to do so in a short period of time due to a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move or as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) of 2005.
The Department of Defense offers the Homeowners Assistance Program (or “HAP”) to eligible service members and federal civilian employees. In addition, HAP was temporarily expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (or “ARRA” and also known as “Expanded HAP”), to include wounded warriors, surviving spouses, and service members required to permanently relocate under PCS orders during the housing market collapse.
First, let me begin by stressing that if you think you may qualify for benefits under ARRA, you need to apply immediately. A recent article by Karen Jowers in the September 6, 2010 Army Times, states that as of August 11, 2010, “HAP had paid nearly $383 million to 2,622 people. Another 5,003 eligible applicants are awaiting benefits, many of them seeking buyers for their homes.”
The problem is that Congress has only appropriated $855 million for the program, leaving $472 million available for the remaining eligible applicants. More importantly, applications are processed as quickly as possible according to eligibility, and in the following order:
(1) wounded warriors, injured and ill are given top priority under ARRA,
(2) surviving spouses, processed in chronological order of the date of the death of the service member or civilian employee of the Department of Defense (hereinafter “civilian employees”)
(3) those service members and civilian employees affected by the 2005 BRAC, with applications processed in chronological order of the date their respective job was eliminated, and finally,
(4) service members who are seeking benefits as a result of a PCS move, with applications processed beginning with the earliest ‘report-not-later-than’ date of the PCS orders.
As the housing market continues to stagnate in many areas across the country, now is the time to take advantage of this program, if you are a member of the military or a federal civilian employee. Because there is so much information about the program, I will be breaking this blog down into multiple parts, so be sure you stay tuned for Part II – Are You Eligible?