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Making Housing Work for Vets

As the country celebrates 243 years of freedom, DS News takes a look at some of the recent initiatives by the industry to help military veterans towards homeownership and sustaining it.

Wells Fargo Awards Housing Grants

Wells Fargo Foundation recently announced that it has doubled the commitment to the 2019 VeteranWINS grant program with $605,000 in donations across 17 nonprofits to address sustainable housing for military veterans. The VeteranWINS grant program has donated a total to $1.2 million to nonprofits serving veteran housing needs over the past four years.

VeteranWINS grants support community-based nonprofits focused on addressing veteran homelessness, transitional housing and low- to moderate-income veteran home rehabilitation.

“Everyone deserves a safe and secure place to live, especially our veterans, who have already sacrificed so much for our country,” said Jeff Chavannes, VeteranWINS Program Manager at Wells Fargo and an Army veteran. “The VeteranWINS program is just one way Wells Fargo supports the great work these nonprofits are doing for veterans in their communities.”

For the Benefit of Veterans

In May 2019, representatives from a broad array of companies representing the mortgage industry and beyond gathered at the Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco, Texas, for the first annual Veterans Financial Services Advisory Council (VFSAC) Golf Classic. Hosted by VFSAC, an organization that helps veterans and their families in search of support related to housing and critical services, the day's events raised more than $200,000 to benefit Operation Homefront, a national 501(c)(3) that partnered with VFSAC to address the ongoing housing needs of veterans and their families.

After attendees spend the day on the green, they reconvened inside the clubhouse for a silent auction and presentations that included a brief welcome from VFSAC Chairman and Rushmore Loan Management Services CEO Terry Smith.

"We have the opportunity to do a lot of great things through VFSAC," Smith said.

VFSAC Founder Ed Delgado brought up an earlier discussion with Operation Homefront President and CEO John Pray, Jr., Brig. Gen., USAF (Ret.), in which they discussed the nature of the sacrifices that veterans make in service of their country. Delgado recalled Pray telling him that he never viewed his time in the military as a sacrifice, but rather as "an honor, a privilege, and a duty."

Examining Financial Wellbeing

According to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Annual Report on financial literacy and preparedness, military servicemembers show slightly higher levels of financial well-being compared to the general population.

The report was released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which created a test to measure financial well-being. Scores range from 0-100, with a higher score correlating to higher levels of financial well-being.

The average score was 61 for a servicemember on active duty and 60 for reserve members. The general population had the lowest share of higher scores at just 36%. Fifty percent of active service members and 45% of reserve members scored higher than 61. The average score for the general population was 54.

The general population had the most individual scores in the bottom tier at 13%. Servicemembers combined to have just 10% score lower than 10.

“The higher levels of financial well-being exhibited by servicemembers may be explained by certain characteristics and benefits of military service,” the report states. “For example, the CFPB found in its research that U.S. adults with a stable month-to-month income had a higher score (56) than those whose income varies from month-to-month (50). Individuals with employer-provided health benefits had a higher score (56) than those without (51).”

An Eye on VA Loans

Rob Posner, Founder and CEO of Maryland-based NewDay USA, a national VA mortgage lender, announced a forecast for 10% growth in VA loan volume for 2019 over last year. He said NewDay USA’s total origination volume for this year is expected to reach $2.4 billion, compared to $2.2 billion in 2018.

Posner indicated an expected increase to 11,000 residential loan originations at NewDay USA this year, with the Operation Home purchase division assisting 2,000 veteran families buy homes by the end of the year. He attributed the projected growth to the company’s national Operation Home purchase campaign, a commitment to lend to underserved veterans and first-time homebuyers and a dedicated team of professionals trained specifically to help military borrowers.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and copy-editor, and a reporter for DS News. She is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her masters degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha, also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas.
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