Veterans Corner: GI Bill Home Loan Guarantee; legal services for homeless or at-risk veterans | Local News
TIME TO USE GI BILL HOME LOAN GUARANTEE
Q: The Feds just raised the interest rate by 75 basis points, which I understand will lead to higher mortgage rates! I tried to decide if I should buy another house. This brings a lot of uncertainty into the decision equation. I have a lot of equity in my current home, but I have a very low mortgage rate, around 3.5%. I am a veteran and believe I am eligible for support from the VA Loan Guaranty program. What are the benefits of getting the VA Loan Guarantee Mortgage rather than waiting to completely pay off my mortgage?
A: The advantages of VA home loan guarantee financing include that the VA does not require a down payment. (Some lenders, under certain circumstances, may require a down payment.) The program should result in a more competitive interest rate than the borrower’s personal credit might offer. There are only limited, if any, closing costs. The veteran does not normally have to pay for mortgage insurance. The veteran often does not have to pay, as part of the monthly mortgage payment, into an escrow account to pay taxes and insurance when they become due. This means that monthly payments will be lower, but the borrower will be responsible for paying taxes and insurance out of pocket when they come due. Finally, the VA home loan is a lifetime benefit. You can use the guarantee several times, but only one loan at a time.
LEGAL SERVICES FOR HOMELESS OR AT RISK VETERANS
The VA has released an Interim Final Rule that allows the VA to improve the provision of legal services to veterans who are or are at risk of becoming homeless. VA, through the Legal Services Grant Program for Homeless Veterans and Veterans at Risk of Homelessness, will provide up to 75 grants each year to eligible entities, with at least 10% of the funding used for women. veterans. These grants will provide access to justice and legal services for veterans through partnerships with the federal level, down to the states, cities and communities at the local level where veterans work and live, according to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. Grants will be used to contract actual services needed with local, state, or regional non-VA entities. This grant, the first of its kind, will ensure that legal services are available nationwide for veterans in need. For more information, go to https://www.va.gov/OPA/PRESSREL/pressrelease.cfm?id5795.
UTILITY BILL ASSISTANCE FOR DISABLED VETERANS
Ameren Illinois has a utility bill assistance program through which veterans with disabilities may be eligible for a grant to pay utility bills and specialized services. VFW Post 454 will host representatives from Ameren at the Post at 1006 E. Lincoln St., Suite 1, in Bloomington on Tuesday from 2-4 p.m. The first 100 participants will receive a free storm preparedness kit. Applications will be accepted for the Ameren Illinois Military Support Program, which offers an energy grant of up to $100 to help defray energy costs for qualified service members and disabled veterans. Those wishing to apply for the grants should bring a copy of their DD 214 or release letter (must have an honorable release), as well as a copy of their disability award letter, if the disability is service-related , or a copy of a Social Security Disability Letter if the disability is not military-related.
Jerry Vogler is superintendent of the McLean County Veterans Aid Commission.