Harder Fights Veterans Housing Discrimination in the Central Valley

June 13, 2019
Press Release
Veteran Family in Modesto Repeatedly Passed Over for Home Because of Veterans’ Loan Program

WASHINGTON – In response to concerns from a local veteran’s family about discrimination in homebuying, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) made an official inquiry with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regarding the agency’s plans to fix the problem. Although the VA offers low-interest home loan rates, additional loan requirements often lead sellers to choose conventional loans over VA loans, and consequently leads them to discriminate against veterans. This means veterans are effectively prevented from buying a home.

“Veterans fought for our freedom – they shouldn’t have to come home to fight for their right to buy a home,” said Rep. Harder. “The VA has helped millions of vets fulfill the American dream – but now red tape is getting in the way – that has to change. I’m going to stay on top of this so folks like the Suveges family don’t have to worry about being denied a home.”  

“With the booming housing market here in central California, we found it very difficult to compete with other buyers,” said Christina Suveges, who contacted Rep. Harder’s office for help. “We had numerous sellers turn us down solely for having VA financing. After reaching out to Josh Harder’s office, we are very pleased to hear he’s working with the VA to address this frustrating problem.”

Rep. Harder was approached by the Suveges family of Modesto, who were repeatedly passed-over by home sellers because of their veteran status. Although the VA has helped millions of veterans buy their first home, additional requirements through the Department can make veteran homebuyers less competitive and consequently passed over for homes they qualify for. Sellers often have to pay additional fees for veteran homebuyers and appraisals are delayed because of understaffing at the department and other red tape. As a result, sellers, including banks often choose to sell homes to non-veterans. 

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing on this issue in 2017, but the VA has not taken action to remedy the problem. In addition to this first request, Rep. Harder is working with the committee and stakeholders to address this problem.                      

The text of Rep. Harder’s letter is below and an original copy is available here.

 

Thank you for your leadership overseeing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). I appreciate the opportunity to work together to support our nation’s veterans.

One of the commitments we make our veterans is that in exchange for their service, they can count on federal support to help transition back to civilian life. Since 1944, the VA’s Loan Guaranty Program has helped over 22 million veterans obtain a home and transition back to civilian life. While Congress intended for this program to provide veterans with financing tools to purchase a home, the reality is the program may be hurting the very veterans it was designed to help.

More than two years after the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) hosted a hearing on the regulations and modernization of VA home loans and appraisals, the issues highlighted by witnesses and members of Congress are still impacting veterans across the country. When home sellers have the option of doing business with a buyer using a VA loan or those using a conventional loan, they too often choose the conventional loan. This is because of the red tape associated with VA loans, appraisal delays, and fees shouldered by sellers instead of buyers. The outcome is the chronic rejection of veterans housing offers and ends up being tantamount to discrimination. One of my own constituents has reported having repeated issues with homebuying using a VA loan. The damaging impact to the veteran community is clear and the VA should act quickly to remedy this situation.

We must ensure our veterans have access to affordable home loans that allow them to compete in the market. That is why I welcome the opportunity to work with you on this issue and respectfully request answers to the following questions:

  • How has the VA worked to improve the appraisal processes since the House hearing on this issue?
  • What has the VA done to address the overall trend of appraiser shortages when hiring its own appraisers?
  • What data has the VA gathered regarding the competitiveness of VA versus non-VA loans in the housing market?

Thank you again, Secretary Wilkie, for your attention to this matter. I hope that we can continue to collaborate to ensure our veterans find a home for themselves and their families.

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