Help for Post-9/11 Veterans Struggling with Homeownership
By George S. Burgan, Senior Director of Communications & Technology, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc.
According to the 2018 report The Housing Affordability Struggle of 21st Century Veterans, post-9/11 service members struggle to achieve homeownership at the level of older veterans and have a lower homeownership rate than civilians in general.
While veterans from Korea to the Gulf War era tend to have both higher rates of homeownership and lower cost burden than civilians, post-9/11 veterans are languishing with a host of issues. A large number of veterans returned from service during the foreclosure crisis. Some returned to face the post-crisis tight credit market. Others have come home to face historically low availability of housing stock. To say nothing of those veterans who have college debt so significant that it prevents from considering homeownership.
Thanks to the dedication and financial support of The Home Depot Foundation, homeownership opportunities in metro Atlanta are improving through veteran service organizations and affordable housing groups. The Foundation recently provided a $435,000 grant to support the Veterans program of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc. (ANDP)
“We’re proud to work alongside our hometown partners, ANDP in the housing realm. We’re grateful their organization continues to help advance our mission of improving the homes and lives of veterans. Together, we can serve those who have served us all,” said Jena Alford of The Home Depot Foundation
Now in its seventh year, ANDP’s Veterans Affordable Home program is increasing affordability and homeownership opportunities for veterans of all military branches, as well as active duty military personnel, Guard and Reserve members, and Gold Star family members. The ANDP program is working to address veteran housing needs on many fronts.
· Affordability – Each year, ANDP acquires and renovates more than 70 homes. Every effort is made to keep the purchase price of these homes as affordable as possible. Home prices range $100,000 to $200,000 with the median price near $165,000, compared to a median price of $246,000 in the five core metro Atlanta counties.
· Sustainability – Each home is fully renovated and move-in ready after purchase. During the renovation process, ANDP and its construction partners renovate homes with sustainability in mind. Particular attention is given to the envelope of the house. Installation of vapor barriers in the crawl space, blown insulation in the attic, new doors, and windows all combine to create a seal on the home that will reduce utility expenses in extreme weather.
· Availability – With a very tight housing market, many homebuyers report that they are competing with multiple other market-rate buyers, including those who make all-cash purchases. ANDP homes are reserved for low- and moderate-income households. Veteran program buyers have an extra perk, each home listed for sale by ANDP has a two-week, “first-look” period exclusively for Veterans.
· Homebuyer assistance – Many veterans choose to use a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan which results in zero down payment requirements. ANDP further assists its veteran homebuyers with up to $7,500 in closing cost assistance. The additional assistance results in a lower out-of-pocket requirement and a lower monthly mortgage payment, enabling veterans to maintain critical savings for future home repairs and emergencies.
“Home Depot Foundation’s deep commitment to our nation’s finest results in real affordability and homeownership opportunities. Their renewed annual support of ANDP means we are able to connect veterans to homebuyer education, perform thorough renovations, provide energy-saving appliances and low-flow water technology, reduce utility expenses, offer homebuyer assistance, create new paths to homeownership – all at an affordable price,” explained ANDP President & CEO John O’Callaghan.
Thanks to this program support from The Home Depot Foundation and others, more than 130 veterans have participated in ANDP’s affordable home program since its launch in 2013.
“We are thrilled to create more affordability and homeownership opportunities. But reports like this remind us that the needs continue to evolve and so must our efforts. We’re currently testing a new path to homeownership, a lease-purchase model that will give near-ready homebuyers an opportunity to focus on homeownership readiness for a year to 18 months,” said O’Callaghan.
For those not quite ready for homeownership, ANDP works to keep rental rates affordable in its apartment offerings.
To learn more about ANDP’s Veterans Program and more, visit www.andphomes.org/