A group of four U.S. lawmakers want to expand the protections of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to help military homeowners better cope with the financial challenges of deployment.
The legislation, known as the Servicemember Housing Protection Act, would amend the longstanding SCRA to provide more widespread protections against foreclosure and other civil obligations for active military and their families.
The SCRA already provides protections for active military members, from foreclosure prevention to caps on interest rates and other significant safeguards. But service members have still struggled during the housing crisis. A sagging real estate market and plummeting property values can make it difficult for military members to sell their homes or purchase new ones upon receiving new orders.
The four Democratic senators — Dick Durbin of Illinois, Mark Begich of Alaska and Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — unveiled the bill Tuesday with Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.
Proposed SCRA protections would:
- Make it easier for service members to get out of leases without penalty
- Provide foreclosure safeguards for surviving spouses
- Broaden the definition of military orders to allow more military members to utilize the act’s benefits
“Honoring our commitment to our military men and women means making it easier for them to have a place to call ‘home’ and raise a family,” Sen. Begich said in a news release. “This bill recognizes the unique challenges our service members face and helps to ensure that there are proper financial protections in place to take care of all military personnel, surviving spouses and their families.”
Representatives from the American Legion, the Military Officers Association of America and other organizations have expressed support for additional SCRA protections.
The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.
VA home loans have the lowest rate of foreclosure of any loan product, but VA homeowners can still benefit from these protections.
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