Protections against foreclosure and other financial obligations would extend to more military members and even surviving spouses if a bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) becomes law.
Introduced this week, the Servicemember Housing Protection Act would help military homeowners hammered by a flailing housing market and broaden the scope of the SCRA, which already provides active service members with protections against foreclosure, interest rate hikes and other issues.
Declining home values have made it difficult for many homeowners to sell an existing home or purchase a new one in the wake of receiving new orders. That can put military families in a tight spot and raise the likelihood of foreclosure, which can derail a service member's career.
This new bill aims to strengthen the longstanding SCRA by:
- Granting foreclosure protection to surviving spouses
- Making it simpler for service members to get out of leases if base housing opens up
- Allowing more active duty members to obtain SCRA protection by broadening the defintion of "military orders"
The bill is now in the hands of the Senate committee on Veterans Affairs.
"Our deployed servicemembers should not have to worry about whether their family will be forced out of their home because of foreclosure," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), one of the bill's four sponsors, said in a news release. "This bill increases protections for our fighting men and women and ensures that they are not penalized or foreclosed upon while they are deployed overseas."
The other three sponsors, all Democrats, are Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Mark Begich of Alaska.
Military organizations including the Military Officers Association of America and the American Legion have expressed support for the measure.
"Our troops serving abroad face countless threats every day, and we should do everything we can to help keep them and their families in their homes," Whitehouse said.