VA taking steps to deal with mortgage crisis

By Tom Philpott

With thousands of service members and veterans having lost homes or facing foreclosure as the mortgage crisis continues, lawmakers are pushing legislation to raise VA loan ceilings, lower VA funding fees and expand the VA’s ability to help veterans refinance loans they can’t afford.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile, is encouraging military members, veterans and surviving widows with at-risk loans to seek advice from VA loan counselors even if their loans are not VA-guaranteed.

VA loan experts lack authority to restructure or renegotiate loans not backed by VA. But they can advise veterans on their options and on how they might negotiate with mortgage holders to avoid default.

VA’s effort to reach mortgage holders in distress now includes a toll free number — 1-877-827-3702 — that automatically directs callers to the nearest of nine VA regional loan centers.