We’ve been talking quite a bit lately about off-base military housing. Today, we’re getting back to the basics and discussing the most important step anyone can take when they’re up against a housing crisis: asking for help. When you start to fall behind on your mortgage, rent or any other financial obligation, it’s important to know where to turn and to be willing to admit that there is a problem. Here are some additional recommendations and resources based on episodes three and five of the Hope Now podcast series.
Why asking for help matters
If you let a problem build up, it will only become worse and negatively affect other parts of your life. When you’re in the military, unmanageable debt could lead to a loss in your security clearance, which could cause you to suffer a loss in income or potentially lose your job altogether. On top of this, debt can add tension to your marriage, break apart a family and negatively impact overall productivity.
As Melinda Opperman says in episode three of our podcasts, these issues aren’t just limited to new military members or those who are lower ranking. In recent years, especially during the recession, more and more people E-5 and above, and even commissioned officers, have been struggling. Melinda highlights some of the following as common issues they face:
- PCS – Permanent Change of Station – (Check out our post on PCS for more help)
- Changes to BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing)
- Lack of emergency savings
- Leaving payments with other people (friends and family) who don’t manage them well, creating a negative credit impact
- Credit issues after service, such as employers pulling a credit report
- General transition to civilian life—servicemen and women have had the help of the military paying for certain expenses (example: dental care) but now have to carry these costs themselves
Who to Contact for Help
If you’re concerned about a housing-related issue or just your finances in general, you should reach out to a nonprofit counseling agency. For general credit counseling, we recommend that you select an agency that’s NFCC-certified. And for housing, you’ll want the agency to be HUD-certified. Luckily, Clearpoint meets both of these requirements.
Aside from general counseling, there are programs geared toward specific military housing issues. In the fifth episode of the podcast series, we’ve highlighted two of our favorite mission-focused groups.
The Nehemiah Corporation works to provide affordable housing for veterans, active duty military and widows. They have various divisions, including the Roofs for Troops program. Through this service, they are able to donate homes to those who serve and offer homes at prices 10 to 20 percent below fair market value. They also have a variety of partners and financial institutions within their network.
Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership
The Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership works through a collaborative network to keep families in their homes and avoid foreclosure. It also rehabilitates vacant homes to create new opportunities and strengthen struggling neighborhoods.
It has increased its focus on serving the needs of low-moderate income veteran families after realizing that this was an important part of the bigger mission.
The group works with some active duty members, but most are veterans who make 120 percent or less of the median income. In fact, most make $40K and under. The organization has numerous partners too, including Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and Home Depot Foundation.
Veterans Association of real estate professionals
John O’Callaghan at ANDP reminded us that current and former military should be sure to work with realtors who are familiar with the programs and resources available to them. Veteran families are too often underserved by available programs or just aren’t aware of them, so this is extremely important. The Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals can put you in touch with a qualified realtor in your area.
Last but not least, our own counseling program for military members and their families can help you integrate back into civilian life or address your other financial concerns. We have a team of veteran counselors and counselors who grew up in military homes who understand what you’re going through and will be able to offer personalized and relevant advice. You’re welcome to learn more about the Reconnect Program.