WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Community Mortgage Lenders of America today released the following statement:
Over many years we have consistently worked to ensure that housing guarantee fees for all federal programs not be used to plug budget holes for non-housing programs. Families pay these funding fees as insurance premiums to ensure that these valuable housing programs do not cost taxpayer funds during economic downturns.
Lately, we have noted an accelerating tendency of Congress to fund veterans’ non-housing programs by raising mortgage guarantee fees on younger veterans and active-duty personnel. We did not contest prior fee increases in the hopes that Congress would suspend this practice going forward, but now HR 3504 has added more fees to be paid by veterans.
Community lenders certainly think that veterans should receive all their benefits, including medical, due them for their service. As a country we are now making them pay for these benefits twice. Veterans as a whole are not served when younger veterans–and this is the population that most uses the home loan benefit–lose access to their earned benefits in the process. This is not a sound veterans’ policy overall.
HR 3504 extends higher fees on veterans and active duty personnel that will hurt these families who have already sacrificed much. (Fees set to expire in 2022 are now made essentially permanent by HR 3504.) Following the housing crash in 2008, a record number of veterans have turned to this benefit as their only path to home ownership. The program has proved to be a model of stability in the mortgage industry, having the lowest foreclosure rate of any mortgage channel for at least the past 12 years. Increasing the funding fees push veterans further underwater on their mortgages and jeopardizes the stability of the program as whole.
As it stands now, Congress is demanding some veterans buying a $250,000 home pay $9,000 for their earned benefit; in expensive states like California, middle-class veterans buying a $500,000 home could pay a whopping $18,000 in fees thanks to Congress. This cannot be what our veterans deserve—to go deeper into debt at Congress’s behest, or to forego entirely a key benefit promised them when they volunteered to put their lives at risk to serve us all.
We urge Veteran Service Organizations to join us in our efforts to stop future fee increases. It’s worth noting that in 2016, the American Legion wrote the following:
The CMLA agrees wholeheartedly with the American Legion’s take in 2016. But we need this sentiment expressed in stronger terms today.
The CMLA must ask these basic questions pertaining to this important matter:
1. When will VA mortgage fees stop being raised higher and higher by Washington DC?
2. Why is Congress intent on removing a key earned benefit for these younger veterans and active-duty personnel?
The Community Mortgage Lenders of America is an industry advocacy group solely focused on the concerns of midsize and small community-based lenders.