Deadline Nears for Expanded Homeowners Assistance Program
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 3, 2012 Eligible military members and federal civilian employees who face financial loss when selling their primary residence may receive compensation, provided they apply for the Expanded Homeowners Assistance Program by Sept. 30.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages HAP on behalf of the military branches. The HAP, initially created by Congress in 1966, provides financial assistance to qualifying homeowners when a closure or significant change in operations at a military base leads to severe losses in the local real estate market.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Public Law 111-5, expanded the HAP to provide assistance to:
-- Deployed wounded, injured, or ill members of the Armed Forces (30% or greater disability) and forward deployed wounded, injured, or ill Department of Defense and Coast Guard civilian homeowners (including employees of non-appropriated fund instrumentalities) reassigned in furtherance of medical treatment or rehabilitation or due to medical retirement in connection with their disability;
-- Surviving spouses of the fallen;
-- Base Realignment and Closure 2005-impacted homeowners relocating during the mortgage crisis; and
-- Service member homeowners undergoing Permanent Change of Station moves during the mortgage crisis.
“The amended law now includes HAP relief for surviving spouses of the fallen, BRAC 2005-impacted homeowners relocating during the mortgage crisis, and service member homeowners undergoing permanent-change-of-station moves during the mortgage crisis,” said Michael McAndrew, director of facilities investment and management office for the deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment.
Key expanded HAP deadlines and qualifying timeframes have already passed, McAndrew said, further escalating the urgency of swift benefit distribution and program closure.
“Reassignment order dates must range from Feb. 1, 2006, through Sept. 30, 2010, and qualifying property purchases, or signed contracts to purchase must have occurred prior to July 1, 2006,” McAndrew said. “BRAC reached its full implementation by Sept. 15, 2011.”
The total benefit calculation, capped at $729,750, is based upon the home purchase price, McAndrew said.
“We’ve made every effort to try and make funds available to pay as many of these applications as we can, and so far we’ve been very successful in doing that,” McAndrew explained, adding that the program is designed to minimize the housing market’s impact, not negate it altogether.
“It’s a great program, but we can’t help folks if they don’t apply,” McAndrew said. “We need to know who is out there because there’s no magic database in the department that tells us who may have been impacted.”
Wounded, injured and ill and surviving spouse applications take priority and are not be subject to the Sept. 30, 2012, deadline for claims.
All applications are now centrally processed through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District. To apply, visit the HAP web site and follow application instructions.