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Associations Address Vet, Military Housing Needs

January 1, 2012

In the past year, when America officially ended the war in Iraq, REALTOR® associations across the country launched dozens of programs designed to help members meet the unique housing needs of returning veterans and military families. Association programs have also focused on providing information, such as special veteran home grants, loans, and financing directly to veterans.

One example is the Portland Metropolitan Association of REALTORS®’ new Heroes Welcome Home Web site launched in November. Although it was inspired by the Chicago Association of REALTORS®’ ground-breading program of the same name, Portland’s version provides home-buying resources directly for U.S. servicemen and servicewomen settling back into domestic life.

This resource is available on the association’s consumer home ownership Web site, http://www.hownw.com, in the military resources tab. It provides -basic information on several Department of Veterans Affairs loans, one home loan specifically for Oregon vets, and a little-known program called the Dream Makers grant, among other resources.

Chicago’s Heroes Welcome Home program, which offers certification to members in veteran housing assistance, is not only running strong but has been licensed by REALTOR® associations nationwide, including the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®.

Helping Our Heroes is a program sponsored by the REALTOR® Association of NorthWest Chicagoland that raised thousands of dollars in 2011 to help active duty Illinois military, veterans, fire fighters, and police facing residential-expense related hardships.

Using social media to raise awareness and contribution, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® widely successful Facebook Causes campaign called “Operation Home Relief” rallied support for USA Cares, a nonprofit that provides foreclosure assistance in the form of financial counseling and grants to post-9/11 active duty U.S. military service personnel, veterans and their families. Within 20 days, NAR matched $20,000 in donations to the cause.

In October, the Missouri Association of REALTORS® in cooperation with the Tri-Lakes Board of REALTORS® in Branson, hosted a free veteran-focused educational program, also called Heroes Welcome Home, to present information on such topics as, grants and funding resources, community veteran services, adapting homes to accommodate disabilities, and more. “Our armed forces and their families have endured incredible sacrifice so that the rest of us can continue living ‘the good life,’ ” says Harriet Leenerts, president of the Tri-Lakes Board. “There’s no adequate way to repay them for their service. However, we can certainly be ‘of service’ to them when they return home, and that’s what this program is all about. We want to make the American Dream of home ownership accessible to each and every one of our veterans.”