Last week we reported on tax benefits for Massachusetts national guard members serving overseas. Now a measure signed into law on May 31st may help stave off foreclosures for all active-duty military personnel.
The measure was brought to the legislature by Amherst land title examiner and military mother Bonnie MacCracken. She says a federal law which prevents lenders from foreclosing on active-duty service members has been in effect since 1940. but to qualify, soldiers have to prove to their banks that they are active-duty. And modern lending practices, MacCracken says, have made that more difficult.
“We are no longer banking locally, and our mortgage holders are in St. Louis, Texas, or California. And especially since banks have gotten bigger, it’s harder for our soldiers and their family members to notify the banks that they are deployed to stop a foreclosure.”
Under the new measure – part of an overarching military support bill called the VALOR act – Massachusetts soldiers can file one notice with the state instead of searching for the appropriate bank officials to inform of their active-duty status.
Jack Downing is President of Soldier On, an advocacy group for homeless veterans in Western Massachusetts. He says the amendment is particularly important for reservists, who he says often lose income while deployed.
“What happens is, for many of them, when they come back they’re underemployed, they don’t have the dollar flow to continue to manage their living situation, and they end up losing their dwelling, and eventually some of them become homeless.”
Downing says of the 285 veterans in Soldier On’s shelters on Sunday night, seven had lost their homes due to their military service.