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Reps call for new help with military mortgages

WASHINGTON — In a letter to Treasury and Housing and Urban Development officials sent today, a group of 12 Democrats – including Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings and House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith – are asking for new protections for military families hit hardest by the ongoing housing slump.

The lawmakers note that troops who receive permanent change of station orders and can’t sell their homes are often faced with an unacceptable dilemma: Default on the mortgage and jeopardizing their security clearance, or keep the home and desperately try to make ends meet.

“Military service members with PCS orders often do not qualify for mortgage modifications because they are not delinquent on their mortgages or because their homes are no longer their primary residences,” the letter states. “As a result, some servicemembers are opting to move alone to their new duty stations without their families. This is particularly disheartening for servicemembers who have just returned from overseas deployments.”

Military officials have offered assistance with the problem in the past, including the Homeowners Assistance Program which helped PCSed troops recoup most of their mortgage losses.

But that program only covers troops who received their orders before Sept. 30, 2010, and defense officials have said there are no plans to extend the assistance.

The lawmakers didn’t specifically address that program, but charged Treasury and HUD officials with developing new initiatives to offer similar assistance. The departments are expected to respond in the next two weeks.

“United States servicemembers should not have to choose between saving their homes and continuing to serve their country,” the letter states.

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