This past week the United States Senate passed legislation designed to help protect military servicemembers, veterans, and their families from foreclosure. Sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), the legislation was included as part of the larger banking regulation bill passed by the Senate and makes permanent a one-year foreclosure grace period for service members leaving active duty.
“Those who serve our country ought to be given a fair chance to get their financial affairs in order when they return home,” Whitehouse said. “That’s why I’ve fought for years to extend and make permanent important foreclosure protection for servicemembers and veterans. I’m proud my bill to help recognize the noble work of our men and women in uniform is one step closer to the finish line.”
Following a report by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, Congress first extended the period of foreclosure protection from 90 days to nine months in 2008, working under the auspices of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. According to that report, “the threat of foreclosure is a stressor that need not be placed on members of the armed forces during the first months of their return to civilian life.”
The foreclosure grace period for servicemembers was extended to one year beginning in 2012, but it was initially instituted as a temporary measure. The grace period was set to expire in 2019, but Sen. Whitehouse had been working to pass legislation that would upgrade it to permanent status for several years.
Erik Wallin, Executive Director of Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, said, “Senator Whitehouse’s bill is particularly important in Rhode Island because we have one of the most deployed National Guard forces in the country. This bill provides servicemen and women with the relief they need as they transition from periods of active duty back into civilian life.”